tom civis’s review published on Letterboxd:
🏆 9,7 | 2019 list |
I just got home from the cinema, opened my laptop, still got my jacket on. This is my instant reaction to this movie. I feel like I need to get this off my chest…
The first few minutes after a movie has finished, when people walk down the cinema stairs, the credits roll and you reflect on what you just experienced, have always been special to me. Usually I’m the last person to leave the room, I like to catch a few scraps of conversations here and there and feel the overall atmosphere. Today I was extra interested in how people would react. It wasn’t what I expected. People were complaining about the room temperature, about how crowded the place was, about the ticket prices, people left and right were pushing each other, cutting lines eager to leave the place as quickly as possible and as I stepped into a pile of nachos on the floor while exiting the building I noticed that no one was holding the doors open for others. I crossed the street and went to a little Burger Place, because I wanted to grab a beer for my way home. The guy at the counter didn’t greet me, he didn’t say please or thank you, he took my order without looking into my eyes. I noticed these small things, because I was still thinking about Arthur’s words:
I don't mean to make you uncomfortable, I don't know why everyone is so rude, I don't know why you are; I don't want anything from you. Maybe… a bit of common decency!
Maybe we lost our way. Maybe I’m just overreacting right now. But I do feel like people nowadays have unlearned how to really listen to each other. And that’s so important…
We as a society need to think about how we treat the ones who don’t fit the arbitrary schemes of what people somehow agreed to embody the norm, the normal, the accepted. The ones on the edge of society, the unfamiliar, the poor, the sick, the differently minded, the mentally ill, the disturbed, the outside the box, the humiliated, the left behind. More often than not, their situation is not their own fault, not on them to blame but on us. ‘The world has gone mad’, you hear this nowadays after the tragedies, the shootings, the attacks, the riots out there. ‘It has never been this bad…’. But this movie had me thinking, maybe the ones on the edge of society are not threatening the rest, maybe the rest of society are threatening them…
Have you become who you are because of yourself? Only a narcist could truly believe that. To some degree, we all are slaves to forces we can’t control. And just like on the dark alleys of Gotham City, there are rats undermining our society. Rats in suits, rats on two legs, rats with degrees. Every cold reflecting smile during this film was a painful reflex to me, a nervous expression of the uncertainty of how to react to this kind of tragic realism and visual poem of madness properly. And when the curtains fell and the screen turned to black, Joker laughed at our faces. A product, not an instigator. He is not the narcist here. It’s the people that deny the fact that they too are products of their surroundings, people like Murray Franklin, who, when you open up your heart to them, will accuse you of merely revelling in self-pity and finding cheap excuses for your mistakes. It’s the people who are unable to see life from another’s perspective, it’s the people that only listen to someone because they want to reply and hear themselves speak. It’s not our education, not our abilities, not our materialistic wealth or our personal success that’s astonishing about our lives. It’s the beautiful, hidden and often forgotten power to move people with a little smile, to provide joy with small gestures, to respect someone by simply noticing them, to change things for the better, even if it’s just a small moment.
‘Joker’ is the best movie I have seen this year. It reminds me to be aware of this power and to not underestimate it. It’s my generation’s ‘Taxi Driver’. And in its own, probably misunderstood and unique way, it teaches empathy at its core. But please, don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to paint myself as the good Samaritan here. I myself feel like a smoker outside the hospital doors. But this movie, this brilliant movie, is not chaos for the sake of chaos, shock value for the sake of shock value or cynicism as and end for itself. At least for me, it makes a difference. It makes me question and challenge my own personal scale of “normal” and encourages me to treat people with a little bit more respect and decency.
Maybe the guy at the Burger Shop was just a douche and that’s that. But you know, maybe not. Maybe people have been treating him like shit for eight hours straight because to them, waiting four minutes for a Burger is not worth their precious time. Maybe they are the instigators and he’s the product as well.
While I was thinking about these things, the guy wordlessly turned around. I left him a small tip, grabbed my beer and went home.