The Movie Experience – Watching Joker

Source: gq.com

Whenever I go to a movie I enjoy identifying with the main character.  I see myself as an avatar battling for my life against winged dragons and fantastic beasts.  I can feel the pain as the main character is rejected and experiences failure.  I sense the isolation of a protagonist struggling against himself and his own demons.  I also feel the pleasure of triumph when the hero overcomes his enemies.

All these feelings seemed to rush through me as I watched the film Joker.  In it, Joaquin Phoenix plays Arthur Fleck (the Joker) a comedian trying to launch his comedic career and make people laugh.  Unfortunately for him, mental illness, and the reality of his own history begins to surface leaving him further and further depressed and isolated.  By the end of the film he becomes a man with “nothing to lose.”

We can all sympathize with such a character.  We all struggle with our disabilities in a society that expects normality from us.  We all long to make something of ourselves only to see the outside and the inside world get in our way.  We all carry the seeds of laughter but also hate.

This is perhaps what is the most disturbing aspect about the film.  We sympathize with a character who at the end of the film becomes something downright diabolical.  The director manages to draw in the audience and take them on a steady and smooth path to hell.

It was CS Lewis who said “The safest road to Hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”

Joker is exactly that.  We don’t really know or are unsure of where things go precisely wrong.  There are no signposts.  Joker feels himself to be justified and has public approval on his side.  Yet he is wrong.  The audience is wrong.  And the path he is on leads to much suffering.

So it is with us as well, no?  There are no signposts for our own lives.  Minor steps, minor concessions add up – then finally we wonder how we ever got here? Perhaps we too can pause our own film.  We too can take a breather and reflect on how we got here and where in the end we want to be.

Raj Vijayakumar is currently residing in Toronto and working as an assistant for L’Arche Canada.

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5 Comments
  • Joseph Schner
    Posted at 11:16h, 13 November Reply

    Great review Raj!

    joe

  • Joseph Schner
    Posted at 11:17h, 13 November Reply

    Great review, Raj!

    joe

  • Caroline Maloney
    Posted at 23:50h, 13 November Reply

    Thank you, Raj! Indeed “there are no sign posts for our own lives….minor steps, concessions add up”. So true! Yet in hindsight, when the wrong road was veiled as possibly good, God sends those special messenger(s) who point to a better way. So happy to have listened and taken the better way out of the fog! Thank you God for the grace to listen, and to those very special messengers that come along.

  • Taz
    Posted at 15:17h, 14 November Reply

    Great reflection Raj!

  • David Savage
    Posted at 21:29h, 15 November Reply

    Actually, we have many sign posts. There is our own conscience that regardless of where we are on the downward slope. It is there and often wakes us up with drastic impact. Next we have the word of God that tells us about that road and where it leads and the results of continued travel – but we have repentance and the atonement of Christ. We also have Jesus, and the Holy Spirit who are ever present and ready to answer the calls for help and lift us out of hopelessness and into the arms of the Lord. And, we have Christ’s church here on earth with open doors and hearts who are ready to “do unto others” as well as the Saints who have entered into heaven before us to pray for the enemies as well as the believers. And finally but not least, we have the clergy who are there to watch, advise, rebuke, love pray and bring us back into the presence of the Lord. But if we turn our back on all these sign posts or milestones, Jesus tells us the result in Luke 13:25-30.

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