This film is the incarnation, the epitomization of the tragic clown. A soft agreeable man, an entertained who only wants to be loved and appreciated, to create joy, here finds his tragic joy in acting out the revenge of the downtrodden on the predators of our very society.
This film dramatizes the predators as not only victimizing the weak indirectly, through institutionally manipulative or cruel measures as most do in the real world, but also as directly, through their acts of joyous cruelty towards others. This makes the acts of savage violence perpetrated by Joker not excessive, but in some senses justifiable.
That each of those predators was explicitly and consciously guilty of some outward crimes, not simply the bureaucratic evil that many bemoan in modern society, makes those acts more than palatable, they are cathartic, and represent a long overdue justice, if an extreme form, of a society that is so broken.
The element that this resembles in our modern society most clearly is the heroism of the individual who can defend themself, even sometimes to excess, exemplified in the polarizing reactions to Kyle Rittenhouse, the child who found himself conflict, and took the ultimate step by using force to gun down a crowd of people when he found himself feeling threatened, making the subjective feeling of threat the dividing line for justified violence against others in a world where all are cruel and all are assumed to thirst for blood. This creates a violent anarchy in which when no one can trust the intention of others, and therefore all must act first to prevent themselves becoming a victim.
The film is thus shot and depicts the abject sadness and grittiness of Gotham City, the manifestation of the ultra-capitalist home of high finance and reactive politics that New York City represents. The criminality, chaos, and intensity are clearly represented, as is the poverty and tragedy of Jokers trap in the maternal shell, the cocoon he has embedded himself in before he lashes out. The inequality in terms of raw power is also on display, with the monopoly of violence controlled by a police and institutional apparatus; to whom they are beholden to we are not sure.
All this leads to a film that seems raw and relevant to the modern popular outrage, but also cliched and failing to offer any promise for redemption rather than a cycle of violence in a society that through its own popular choices prefers to victimize itself rather than shed the shackles that define its rules.
Rating: 9 seconds of strange dancing.
Staff writer: Ari B