Ultimately this rent a clown has no future in the insufferable gag economy where's he's only one bad day away from lashing out and losing what little foothold he has left in life.
We've all seen movies where characters overcome physical injury or disability to triumph against the odds but the Joker is a different side to this familiar narrative.
Instead of watching a person with a physical handicap we are buckled down for an intense unraveling of a man's mental health, or possible the thawing of a heavily medicated individual with a mental disorder. Joaquin Phoenix plays the part all too well for we are tortured with the unpleasant experience of viewing life as Arthur Fleck. No one can be comfortable watching his performance as a mentally sick outcast. His physical appearance and protruding rib cage reminds us of how unhealthy he is, or maybe the hopelessness of his impoverished situation causes us the most unease.
Fleck is pitiful, lonesome, with no chance of a decent future. Nor does he triumph. He disintegrates into the the centre of darkness and only from the ashes does something emerge, but it's hateful, vengeful, and extremely violent.
There is a prophetic scene where joker watches Charlie Chaplin skate on the edge of a second floor balcony, unknownst to the danger of the perilous drop he teeters on. This becomes the comedy that Fleck finally identifies with, a comedy of chaos that will soon define Gotham City.
The film has lots of references to the batman realm but a reflection of current trends makes it more ingrained in the viewers world than the comic book universe. It's not meant to be political or to inspire a copy cat movement but ever so subtly with trends like "eat the rich" masquerading as Jokers "kill the rich" the life-art-death veil feels almost transparent and it's hard not to draw the conclusion that there's an element of social commentary present throughout.
That aside the Jokers brilliance lies in its pain, there is no joy here, you'll most likely leave the cinema feeling like you've been poisoned. Strip away the comic book aspects and this is a traumatic movie built on human suffering. I'd recommend viewing only if you must but remember you get what you deserve.