Joker raises more questions than an average comic book-inspired film: Here's an effort not to answer a single one

Karan Pradhan

Oct 07, 2019 15:45:48 IST

Have you watched Joker?

If not, and this is the only effort at an answer that will be made, only read the following after you have done so.

 Joker raises more questions than an average comic book-inspired film: Heres an effort not to answer a single one

A still from Todd Philips' Joker.

 

Did you enjoy the film?

 

Was Joaquin Phoenix's turn as the titular character all it was hyped to be?
Conversely, were you left in the cold by his at-times cringe-worthy histrionics?
Or did you find his acting a distraction from a fairly flat and predictable story?
How important, to you, was the film's adherence to comic book canon?

 

Was Arthur Fleck convincing enough as a figure of pathos?
Was he appealing enough in that capacity to keep you gripped through it all?
Did the 'unreliable narrator' aspect enhance his tale or was it a lazy effort to cut corners with storytelling?

 

How believable did you find Phoenix's portrayal of mental illness?
Do you feel the fact that Fleck was mentally unwell added something to the character, setting, plot, treatment or denouement?
Or do you find yourself feeling like it diminished one or more of the above?
Was it at all important to you how accurately, or not, the actor was able to portray mental illness?

 

Did the evolution of Fleck's personality, traits and tics over the course of the film feel smooth and logical to you?
Were you left scratching your head about how his fits of uncontrollable laughter grew fewer and far between as the film wore on?
Did it also feel like a bum note that this trend coincided with the decrease of medication in his system?
Or were you among those who found the film to be an effective critique of psychiatric medicine, its effects and the public mental healthcare system in general?
And in yet another 'or', did you find yourself thinking that the drugs were merely repressing the emergence of the real Joker?
Should whether any of this is the case actually matter considering the Joker is well-known to be the quintessential agent of chaos?

 

Did the 1980s setting of a society in decay work for you?
Or was the setting more of an incidental thing because the issues depicted in the film could have taken place in any time frame?
Was Thomas Wayne, as a blunt politician, something you saw as sacrilege given the hitherto near-pristine depiction of the Dark Knight's father on celluloid?
Or did you find the subversion of the decades-old trope of the Waynes as 'purer than driven snow' good guys a refreshing change from the norm?
Did the briefly-toyed-with idea of Fleck as Bruce Wayne's half-brother intrigue you?
Then again, was that teased reveal something that made your eyes roll back into your head loudly enough for Rakesh Roshan to hear?
Were you put off by the idea that by the time Bruce becomes Batman, the Joker will be a senior citizen?

 

Were you captivated by Fleck's obsession with featuring on his personal hero and comedian Murray Franklin's show?
Or did it feel like treading old ground that was trodden far more convincingly by Ellen Burstyn in Requiem for a Dream?
Be excited, be, be excited?
Did the raft of references (to such films as Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy, and onscreen characters like Heath Ledger's own take on the film's eponymous pro/antagonist) make you smile as you spotted them?
Or did they leave you sighing and wondering if originality is well and truly in its cold cold grave?

 

Did you see Fleck's human interactions as ends to means?
Perhaps even as a tapestry on which to chart his evolution into the Joker?
Or did you write them off as lazy and perfunctory writing, what with the amount of screen time lavished on the subject of the piece?
Were you taken aback by the Joker's reckless abandon and viciousness when it came to dispensing of people whose presence had become less than desirable?
Did you maybe think all the pre-release shock and hype about the violence of the film was a damp squib and that his executions were fairly tame by today's standards?
A tale of blood, gore, more blood and dragons anyone?

 

Have you ever wondered if anti-rich sentiment will manifest itself in the sort of violent form depicted on screen?
Will the film incite people into undertaking coordinated acts of mob violence?
Did people pick up katanas and seek to slice and dice the objects of their ire after watching Kill Bill?
Was Joker right to dispatch of the three Wall Street bros, who were written to be as boorish and repugnant as possible?
Did the escalation — killing said Wall Street bros turning into organised street violence — feel somewhat hasty and illogical to you?
Is human sentiment, particularly when acting in groups or mobs, truly something that can be defined as measured and logical?
Did Joker end up sending out the wrong message and should it have been accompanied by a disclaimer?
Are disclaimers effective deterrents against film-influenced violence or are films merely a convenient scapegoat so as to cover up/ignore other pressing concerns like the lack of gun control.

 

Do you feel the treatment or handling of the film was clumsy?
Was Todd Phillips — whose pedigree is arguably in male-bonding films like Old School and the Hangover trilogy — the right man to helm such a project as this?
Are you among those people who remind others of the excellent film War Dogs (also directed by Phillips), which is nothing like the male-bonding films above?
Should all films contain a message?
Should films necessarily contain a message?
Is it not enough in today's world for a fictional film just to be a story about someone or some people who do something, without an in-depth analysis into the motive of the people making it?
Or is it incumbent on filmmakers to be responsible about the sort of content they are putting out into the world?
Is it better if films based on or inspired by comic books stick to the family-friendly Disney-Marvel template?

 

Was it a good film?
What is a good film?
What, for that matter, is a bad film?

 

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Updated Date: Oct 07, 2019 15:56:24 IST