One of the biggest films of the year is full of astonishing performances, a cracking soundtrack and an extremely dominant plot point of mental health.

DC’s Joker is one of the most complicated characters to ever make the switch from comic strip to the big screen.

Having been played by the talents of Jack Nicholson, Jared Leto and the late Heath Ledger it was time for Joaquin Phoenix to take the reins and give cinemagoers a new take on the villain. 

The Character

Following the sudden death of Heath Ledger in 2008 prior to the release of The Dark Knight in which he played the iconic villain, questions were raised as to whether the portrayal of the character had something to do with his dependence on prescription drugs which ultimately cost him his life in such tragic circumstances.

Ledger’s performance is considered by many to be one of the greatest acting performances of all time and earned him a posthumous Academy Award.

The Dark Knight was released over ten years ago and to this day is still earning plaudits and throwing it back to Halloween 2016, Ledger’s Joker was my choice of costume.

I raided Primark for a shirt and waistcoat combination that was close enough and my now sister-in-law applied my face paint and sprayed my hair green. I even took out a Joker playing card as a form of ID for the Halloween pub crawl I went on. 

The Film

This next part is entirely spoiler-free for those of you that haven’t seen the film.

This was a viewing experience I’ve never had before. I absolutely loved the film and it’s easily the best I have seen since Blade Runner 2049 hit the big screen two years ago.

That said, there were a few scenes I found really tough to watch because of the relatable mental health themes. 

The big one being the constant feeling of alienation from society. Something I was all too familiar with during my struggles. 

Below you have a few quotes from the film that took me back to some of those dark moments.

“All I have is negative thoughts.”

“If it were me dying on the pavement you’d walk all over me.”

“What do you get when you cross a mentally ill loner with a society that abandons him?”

With that final quote, another theme from the film is the effect society can have on us mentally. 

During my struggles, I had huge issues with society and mainly my role within it. I didn’t feel anything other than negativity and thought that was just the way my life was meant to be.

While I have been on this journey through mental realignment I have learned that it wasn’t society that I had an issue with all those years ago. It was myself.

I learned that through nine months of therapy, through travel and everything in the middle of this five-year journey.

However, seeing those feelings portrayed in such a strong performance by Phoenix takes me back to an extent. Not to say I was feeling them again and my world began to fall apart, but just I remember how they felt and always will, which I wouldn’t say is a bad thing, I personally think it’s important to remember how we got from one point in our lives to another.

Final words on the film are that from my perspective of suffering a mental illness it has some accuracy despite taking them in a completely different direction (Obviously) but above all that it is a fantastic piece of cinema. 

It’s a film I think everyone should see at least once. It’s so much more than the average superhero film we see every few months and the theme surrounding societies impact on mental health is one we haven’t seen in cinema before.

Watching Joker having suffered a mental illness

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