I’ve just come home from seeing Joker and I can hardly find my words or shake away the feeling of uneasiness. I try to convince myself it is just a movie and that I should merely appreciate the outstanding acting and the incredibly well fitting soundtrack. But I cannot stand tall or look forwards, I can’t really speak. My head is hanging and my gaze is staring downwards. But the pain… that there is plenty of.
Because Joker is not just a movie. Joker will punch you in the guts and make you short of breath. It will make you want to go into the fetal position so your heart won’t be ripped out of your chest. And good luck trying to strike a conversation with your partner once you leave the theatre and want to share opinions. There is nothing else I want to do right now, but go to sleep. Only I am afraid of what my poor brain will conjure once I have closed my eyes.
And there are also some images running continuously through my mind. The piercing, sad eyes and the light that came over his face when it seemed like a place of refuge had been found in the smile of a child or the tenderness of a woman. The incontrollable, heartbreaking laughter. The wonderful dancing in the short-lived moments when he feels there is also a place for him, when he seems to be liberated from the contempt and abandonment the others have made into his only reality.
And there is another thing that I cannot get over. The disgusting laughter in the movie hall. I am wondering if the creators of this masterpiece realized that what they intended to cast a light upon would not only happen on screen, but also in front of it. And at this point I am not even sure what makes me shudder more: Joker with his sinister crimes rooted in the neglect and disdain of others or the obvious lack of sensitivity and depth of the people around me.
Unfortunately Joker is an entire experience comprising both the artistic act on the screen and also the reactions it elicits in theatres all over the world. It paints a very realistic picture of our society where we avoid showing vulnerability, because it makes us look weak and pathetic. A society where we don’t reach out or talk about the tormenting thoughts that we have, because we’re met with the same urge to stop the self-pitying, since people don’t understand what it’s like to be assaulted by thoughts that seem to be created by a totally different mind that works against you. A society where people offer you support and compasion if you break a leg, but shudder and express scepticism if you tell them your heart or your mind is broken. Yet in this society it is perfectly ok to laugh heartily at scenes of a mentally ill person repeatedly stabbing someone with a pair of scissors and the scenes most devoid of humour still spark laughter in the audiences. This society is full of people so thick that they are still thinking they came to see a comic heroes movie. People so desensitized and unable to understand what they’re seeing, that they can’t even tell they are looking at themselves on a cinema screen.
This movie is entirely a masterpiece and if I hadn’t been afraid I would have a panic attack (I think the dread of experiencing such an episode in public with those people laughing around me was what saved me this time – ironic, isn’t it?) if I saw it again, I would definitely do this. Not to witness the immense pain of Arthur Fleck, but to watch again the oustanding performance of Joaquin Phoenix. For now I don’t think I am that brave.
For now I am left with some questions. What do we do with those who suffer in silence? What is there for the ones tormented by their thoughts to hope for? Do we let them end the game themselves when it becomes too hard to play or do we wait for them to become Joker? I don’t have an answer now. And I cannot think. I can only feel.