The Anticlimax of “Joker” (2019)

“For my whole life, I didn’t know if I even really existed. But I do, and people are starting to notice”
– Arthur Fleck.

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I’m going to be honest with myself for a second. I really, really love the 2019 film, “Joker”. I remember seeing the teaser trailer for it, Joaquin Phoenix all done up in his makeup and I immediately thought that this was going to be an impactful movie. Phoenix’s performance as Arthur Fleck got him the Academy Award for Best Actor, and since it’s theatrical release I believe I’ve seen the movie four times (twice at the Cineplex, once at home, and another time on a flight from Vancouver to Toronto). I think it’s a film that everybody should see at least once – and while it was a meme before, during, and after its release (“um, are you sure you want ONE ticket for Joker, wouldn’t you like to see something else?”), the themes throughout the film reflect a one-sided, individualist society that we seem to be living in in our current day.

Joker (2019) is a psychological thriller film that follows the story of Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), a struggling comedian who transforms into a violent criminal known as the Joker. The film explores Fleck’s descent into madness as he deals with abuse, poverty, and neglect in a corrupt and violent society. He embarks on a crime spree that leads to a widespread social revolution, and he becomes a symbol of chaos in Gotham City. The film ultimately ends with Fleck embracing his new identity as the Joker and losing touch with reality. Irony seems to be a large part of this film.

In Joker (2019), there are several instances of irony that are used to highlight the film’s themes and to add depth to its characters. One example of irony in the film is the way that Fleck is initially portrayed as a sympathetic character who wants to bring joy to people through his comedy, yet he ends up becoming the notorious criminal known as the Joker. This is a contrast to the typical perception of the Joker as an evil and sadistic character, and it serves to highlight the film’s themes of social inequality, mental illness, and the corrosive effects of a society that neglects its most vulnerable members.

Another example of irony in the film is the way that the Joker’s violent acts are eventually seen as a form of rebellion against a corrupt and oppressive society. Despite being a criminal, the Joker becomes a symbol of resistance and a catalyst for social change. This is a stark contrast to the typical portrayal of the Joker as a villain, and it serves to highlight the film’s themes of power, class, and the struggle for social justice.

Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro) is a late-night talk show host who is popular in Gotham City. He plays a significant role in the film as Arthur Fleck’s (the Joker’s) main source of inspiration for his comedy career. Fleck becomes obsessed with Franklin and appears on his show, only to have a traumatic experience that ultimately sets him on the path towards becoming the Joker. Throughout the film, Franklin serves as a representation of the mainstream media and its impact on society, as well as a symbol of the American Dream and the pursuit of success.

Murray makes fun of the Joker during one of his late-night talk show appearances. In the scene, Franklin shows a clip of Fleck’s stand-up comedy performance, which is actually a part of Fleck’s long-standing obsession with Murray and his talk show.

Franklin, who is unaware of Fleck’s mental state and troubled background, decides to poke fun at Fleck’s strange behavior and the content of his comedy routine, which he sees as being in poor taste. This humiliation on national television is a major turning point in Fleck’s descent into madness and is what ultimately leads him to embrace his identity as the Joker. In this scene, Murray serves as a representation of the mainstream media and its power to shape public opinion, as well as a symbol of the way that society can be cruel and dismissive towards those who are different or perceived as being out of the norm. The scene highlights the film’s themes of mental illness, social inequality, and the consequences of a society that fails to address the needs of those suffering with mental illness.

As a result of the humiliation he experiences on Murray Franklin’s talk show, the Joker decides to take violent revenge against Murray. The Joker goes to Murray’s studio and shoots him on live television, in front of a horrified audience and other guest speakers of Live! With Murray Franklin. This act of violence is portrayed as a turning point in the Joker’s transformation from a struggling comedian to a notorious criminal. The scene is also a commentary on the power of media and its impact on society, as well as the way that society can drive individuals to madness and violence when they feel that they have been marginalized and disregarded. The murder of Murray Franklin is a key moment in the Joker’s journey towards becoming a symbol of chaos and a catalyst for social revolution in Gotham City.

The final scene of Joker (2019) can be interpreted as an anticlimax because it falls short of the expectations set up by the film’s intense buildup of suspense and violence. It fails to deliver on the promise of a satisfying resolution to the character’s journey. Instead of offering a clear explanation for the Joker’s motivations or a resolution to the social upheaval he has caused, the film ends with a simple and ambiguous scene that leaves many questions unanswered. During a movie, the audience invests time, attention, and emotional energy in the characters and their journeys. They want to see the resolution of the story’s conflicts and the fulfillment of the characters’ goals. Anticlimax denies the audience this payoff, leaving them feeling unsatisfied and let down.

In conclusion, Joker (2019) is a film that challenges the audience’s perceptions of the titular character and the themes of mental illness, social inequality, and the consequences of a society that fails to address these issues. Through its use of irony and its exploration of the Joker’s descent into madness, the film highlights the complex and nuanced nature of these themes and the impact that they can have on individuals and society as a whole. The film’s characters, such as Murray Franklin and the Joker himself, serve as representations of larger societal issues and help to drive the film’s themes forward. The film’s final scene can be seen as an anticlimax because it fails to deliver on the promise of a satisfying resolution, leaving the audience feeling unsatisfied and with many questions unanswered. Despite this, Joker (2019) remains a thought-provoking and impactful film that explores important social issues and challenges the audience’s perceptions of mental illness, violence, and the impact of society on the individual.

Recommended Viewing
The Reel Heel. (2019). JOKER | That’s Life.

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