‘Joker’ presents powerful commentary on mental illness

Disclaimer: “Joker” (2019) is an R-rated film that was viewed by this reporter with parental consent. This film contains violence and dark themes that may not be suitable for younger viewers.

With its emphasis on mental health and mistreatment of the lower class in society, “Joker” (2019) had a lot of expectations to live up to. In my opinion, it delivered.
Taking a deeper dive into the origin story of the title character, “Joker” highlights a man’s battle with mental illness as he eventually spirals into the villain many know him to be.
The film presents a compelling story that we’ve never considered before: could it be that the world, better yet, the government failed the character while he was still an average man? Could it have been that he really wasn’t born evil?
I found this premise to be an interesting take on the character and intelligent commentary on the treatment of mental illness in America.
In the movie, Joaquin Phoenix gives a stunning performance as Arthur Fleck, a man with severe mental health issues.
We watch as he struggles to support his elderly mother while working as a party clown, as most other places would never hire him due to his problems.
I believe this film masterfully brings one into the mind of a man who has truly lost everything and struggles to maintain a grip on reality.
The audience, just as Fleck, never quite knows what’s real and what’s just a dream. The movie takes you into a routine of something, making you accustomed to it, only to reveal that it never even happened.
It does this so that you get the same reaction to the reveal as Fleck would when he comes out of his dazed confusions.To add to the magnitude of his downward spiral, these surprises come only in the minor moments of sanity he regains towards the end of the film.
Slowly, his life spirals out of control; he gets harassed by multiple ongoers over his disorder that causes uncontrollable laughter, loses his job, uproots dark secrets from his past and, slowly, his word becomes a blend of hallucinations and reality.
Throughout the movie, Fleck visits a government-funded therapist. Later, we find out that the funding has been cut and they have to go out of business, leaving him with no one to talk to and no way to get the multiple medications he needs to function in society.
This moment in the movie reflects many situations faced by lower-income families in the United States. It is widely noted that the U.S. has higher healthcare rates than any other developed country and the cost of healthcare will continue to grow as time passes.
This was an interesting, yet necessary topic for the film to explore, as, according to MHA (Mental Health America), “If you don’t have insurance, it can be difficult to pay for treatment unless you are independently wealthy.”
This movie serves as an extreme, yet scarily realistic, cautionary tale of how powerful the mind can be and how one person’s ignorance can cause such harm to another.
It forces people to take into account how people like Fleck struggle to cope with the world around them and how damaging it is to be uneducated and close-minded on issues like mental illness.