Movie reviews are not something I commonly post on Reclaiming The Smile but I had to make an exception for this one. I was entirely blown away (in a good way) by Joker.
Let me start by saying I am not truly a fan of the super hero, villain, comic movies. It just isn’t my thing. So when my husband said he wanted us to go and see Joker I wasn’t exactly thrilled, but I love him so I tagged along, happy to munch on some popcorn and enjoy the new theater seats at Marquee Cinemas.
Within just a few minutes of the film, however, I was hooked. Unlike the typical movies of this genre I’ve seen before, this was no action movie. Rather, it told a very somber, fairly realistic story of a man suffering from mental illness while maneuvering some difficult aspects of life, including job loss, the revealing of some family turmoil from the past, and the inability to receive his regular medication.
Without giving too much away, I’ll just say that these events and more send him spiraling into a whirlwind that sends him from being a hard-working clown to Joker that we all know so well.
Why Am I Writing About Joker?
No, it’s not just because I loved the movie. It’s actually because of how much I related to him and I believe many others who suffer from mental illness will as well. Here are some things about the movie that really captured my attention.
The Worst Part About Mental Illness
As Arthur Fleck (later, “Joker”) is speaking with a counselor at a low-cost clinic, they begin to discuss his journal which he has been encouraged to write in. This immediately caught my interest, as you all know how important writing is for my own mental health. In the scene, however, one part of his journal says, “The worst part of having a mental illness is people expect you to behave as if you don’t.”
That is such a deeply profound statement that I’m not sure there are even words to expound upon it. It says it all right there.
Causes Of Mental Illness
We see pretty early on in the movie that Arthur doesn’t have an easy life. He struggles with an unusual condition that makes forming friendships difficult. He is caring for his mother who needs him greatly. He loses his job. He then finds out that his mother is not actually his biological mother but that she had in fact adopted him and had allowed him to be mistreated horribly as a young child due to her own mental illness.
I loved the fact that it showed how one thing can compound on top of another to lead a person to their complete breaking point.
Lack Of Support
With no job and no friends, Arthur soon finds out that he also will no longer receive medication. The clinic he has been going to was defunded and their doors would be closing. Many people realize the importance of weening off of medication slowly. However, due to circumstances, Arthur was forced to come off of them all at once.
I believe this happens to more people than we would realize. The cost of healthcare in our country has made things are difficult financially. And while we do have many low-cost clinics, they are not always easily accessible by those who need them the most. I was greatly impressed how Joker focused on this detail.
Worse still, however, he realizes his counselor doesn’t really listen to him. She is just there, doing her job. In fact, she goes so far as to tell him that the government doesn’t care about him. And he knows it’s true. He truly has no one that he can lean on.
After accusing his counselor of not listening, he began listing all of the questions she asks every week (out of duty). He soon gets to “Have you had any negative thoughts?” This question obviously disturbs him because he, like many people suffering from depression has, “Nothing but negative thoughts.”
This is such a sad, but true statement, one I have said numerous times. A close family member of mine while suffering from depression once said to me, “I would be happy if I had anything to be happy about.”
Depression causes a person to completely lose track of the good things in their life and forces you to focus only on those that make you more miserable.
I believe the most meaning moment of this movie for me, was after Arthur had begun killing. While no one knew that it was him, he told his counselor that no one had ever really noticed he had existed, until now. You may have noticed from this post that I struggle a lot with feeling as though no one knows I exist.
I don’t think I’m the only person out there who feels this way, and I believe this movie proves it.
It also goes to show that in our society, evil is recognized FAR more than kindness ever dreamed of.
I believe this same philosophy is why many children act up. In fact, one of my children is very known for having violent outbursts. Most of them can be attributed to days when she hasn’t had as much positive attention as usual. She would prefer getting negative attention than getting none at all.
Should You See This Movie?
Yes. And no. And I don’t know! I loved the movie. I truly did. But it was very disturbing to me. To be honest with you, it somewhat confirmed a feeling inside of me that my existence would never be noticed and that I have no support. It affirmed that my circumstances are dire.
I know those things aren’t true. I know I have people who love me with all of their heart. I know I exist. I know people know I exist. And I know if I would make some changes in my life to be more open with others that more people would know that I exist. But this movie is dark and it can create some very deep thoughts and based on that, I will say if you suffer from depression, this may not be a good thing for you to watch as I do believe it could worsen that state of mind.
On the other hand, if you feel like you’re the only one who has dark thoughts and you want confirmation that you’re alone, this is a GREAT movie for you. I can’t tell you how many times I thought, “Wow. That’s what I say/do/think.” Sometimes knowing you’re not the only one can help a ton!
If you know someone with mental illness, I strongly recommend you see this movie! It will open your eyes to some of the struggles that they go through and may help you understand their less stable moments.
Word of Caution
I do not curse nor do I enjoy listening to cursing. I do not however take extreme offense to occasional words as I know some people do. To me, words are words. And while some are unintelligent and annoying (like curse words) I don’t get extremely upset by them unless they are used repeatedly. This movie does definitely use some foul language. If that upsets you, you will not enjoy this movie.
It should also probably go without saying that Joker is a violent movie. There is a lot of violence, blood, gore, and very dark thoughts and actions. If these things bother you, this is NOT a good thing for you to watch in theaters.
If You Feel Like Joker
If you feel like your circumstances are similar to Joker as I do, don’t let yourself get consumed in that feeling! Yes, it’s helpful to know there are others like you. But you need to also know there IS hope! It may not be easy, but there are a lot of things you can do!
I would start by signing up for my e-book, 7 Habits To Happiness, via the sidebar on the right and implementing those changes.
In addition to that, however, I also have to give a few tips.
- Don’t Give Up. Keep searching for the answer that works for you. If one door shuts, take a battering ram and force another one open.
- Look Around. Make yourself recognize a few good things around you every night before you go to bed. There is always something good. Just the fact that you have a bed can be a great starting place!
- Reach Out. Often times we don’t feel noticed because we do our best to avoid being noticed. We hide behind our books, our cell phones, and our security net of family and friends. As a result, we make others feel unnoticed as well. If you reach out, you may be surprised how many will reach back.
- “Put a smile on that face.” Sometimes we really do have to just fake it until we make it.