I watched the film “Joker” recently. I can say that the acting is superb and the plot is engaging. I wasn’t surprised about its dark and depressing mood because these reviews were common when the movie just came out, although I didn’t have the time then to watch the movie.
I felt, however, that some killings weren’t necessary, like the death of Mr. Wayne and his wife, and Mr. Murray. But probably, Bruce’s getting orphaned by the end of the film mirrored Arthur’s life as an abandoned child and presented some form of evening things out. And Murray’s death signalled a brutal end to years of being laughed at or being seen as “clowns.”
The film looks deeper into mental health, how people’s state of mind affect their well-being, their opportunities in life, their perception of the society, and how they are viewed by the society. How can a struggling, mentally-ill person survive in a society that only gives regard to the rich, the powerful and those who conform to what a responsible, law-abiding citizen should be? How can people with mental health problems live decently when their needs are not addressed and when they are shunned by the society?
In the movie, the building where Arthur Fleck and his mother Penny lived is totally decrepit. How does one even thrive or heal in a place that smells of decay and hopelessness. How can people struggling to make ends meet possibly make it in a society that exploits the weak? If people with sound minds are advised to take a break, seek counselling session, and go somewhere relaxing to rest their tired minds, then what about those who are living in a dark pit and do not have access nor the economic capability to have these? Those with healthy physical and mental capacities may have the capability to bounce back after difficulties, but for others, these setbacks can reach a breaking point.
Aside from being a cautionary tale of what might happen if majority of citizens feel shunned, ignored and unheard, Joker is also a reminder for people to be compassionate. It is a reminder for the leaders/authorities to heed the needs of their citizens. In our society that puts a premium to good physical health (organic food, multi-vitamins, yoga, exercise regimen, annual medical check up, etc.), there is a need to ramp up awareness and action regarding mental health.
Our fellow men and women suffering from mental health issues need help. They should not stay in the dark too long. It doesn’t matter if it starts with a chink of light. Someone has to help them to see the light.