The Joker – a film review

For today, within the tradition of good holiday film binging, let’s hit the #MovieMonday hashtag. Below is my review of The Joker – a DC Comics-character-based film that has nothing to do with DC Comics aesthetics.

I unconsciously skipped the film when it first came to cinemas, knowing that the character is the green-haired weirdly-grinning figure of a supervillain bred in the DC universe. It’s not that I don’t enjoy a nicely-made comic strip. It’s simply that I get tired of extra loud and extra violent films where stories hang by a thin thread and abundant sound, visual and make-up effects.

Then, I got convinced to watch it by a colleague whose pitch was: “No, not at all, the film is really good, it’s nothing to do with DC Comics.” She went on to tell me it was a troubling experience, so I got interested even more deeply. I watched it and I loved it.

To start the film review proper, I would like to highlight the central star in it. Joaquin Phoenix makes a striking appearance. I was deeply touched with his part, and he contributes dramatically to the general effect the film had on me. His crooked shape, haggard face, his voice and the way he moves – they all made for an amazing presence throughout the film at the same time telling the character story.

Most of the time, I sympathised with Arthur Fleck (the screen name of this Joker version), I felt bad for him and had a bitter taste of the weird unlucky combination of circumstance and choices in his film life. Without too many words, loneliness and isolation were made evident. The following disturbing actions that seemed without any cause made me think of the hopeless struggle a person has with mental illness. As a psychologist, I know that plenty of people go through such troubles and unpleasant issues without going the direction Arthur took. As a student in mental illnesses, I know that what mentally healthy persons can overcome through their inner motivation and emotional maturity, can be the end of reason for a fragile person.

If you want to see a good psychological portrayal of a fall, if you enjoy a good character study and you savour good cinematography, The Joker is an excellent option for you.

Watching a Film: Passengers, 2016


Although I didn’t bump into it on the web, it was thanks to the web that I watched Passengers. It can be found on Netflix, and you need an Internet connection for that. That’s how the film found a place on my blog in this particular #web topic.

Don’t read if you haven’t seen it and you want to find everything out for yourself, because I am about to make a synopsis of the plot.

Passengers was released in 2016, and I read that before getting to our screens, it was in some hell of its own. Many works of art nowadays are. That thing aside, the plot is not too complicated. A sleeping ship full of people travelling to a colony planet 120 years away from Earth to start a new life on, malfunctions due to serious asteroid collisions. A passenger is awakened, Jim, starring Chris Pratt from Guardians of the Galaxy. A year later, having done nearly everything there is to do onboard, Jim awakes another passenger, Aurora, not telling her the truth but pretending her awakening was just as accidental as his. For a year both live together on the ship, gradually falling in love and settling in for a happy life. Then suddenly, the truth about how Aurora was brought up resurfaces, and their harmony is shattered.

The fact that the ship is in critical condition and their attempts to prevent its destruction finally brings them together for a happy ever after. Perhaps they didn’t have children, or maybe they did, but that’s not part of my story.

I enjoyed the film mostly because of Jim’s character. He is a mechanic who left Earth where “when something breaks, we don’t fix it, we replace it”. He wants to go to a new world where he can help build it. All the time we saw him on the screen, if he wasn’t at the bar or with Aurora, he was making something. Making, fixing, changing, adapting – never stopping. When Arthur, the android bartender, asked him what he had been doing to get so soiled, Jim said simply: “Improvements.”

He found the bio area where they carried the plants and succeeded in planting a tree in the middle of the Concourse – the ship’s spacious lounge. Not only did he accept his fate – that he will die on the ship before it reaches the colony, but he also did all he could in cool mind and intention to make his life there count… for him, at least. It seems to me, Jim had the meaning of life figured out very clearly and neatly. He was fine with being quietly happy in a small family and house. He didn’t put an equation sign between happiness and popularity. His astonishing and extraordinary deeds may seem too everyday, but in the universe of his soul, they were huge.

Aurora’s character evolved from a girl who thought that only extraordinariness can make her happy to someone who realised that being part of the perfect couple is all you need to feel accomplished.
At the final difficulty, when Jim had to stay out of the ship in order to hold the door open for the reactor to vent, my husband said: “Here’s how one should never give up.” My husband likes pointing such signs to me, just so as I don’t forget.

Passengers was one of the few films I really enjoyed since a long time ago. I have been getting lazy and used to series lately, so I don’t often sit down for over 1 h to see one full-length piece. I liked the film much more than The Martian, that was widely-acclaimed as another never-give-up survivor story. To me, The Martian was boring, I don’t know why. Maybe due to the lack of an Aurora in it.

Cheers to all the unrelenting mechanics who never stop improving their surroundings, and to all the Auroras who inspire them with their starlight and faltering enthusiasm!