Joker is film depicting the origins of the Joker. The most feared and famous villain of the Batman Saga. Joker is the villain who has tormented Batman the most.
The character of Joker has been made enigmatic and terrifying both at the same times by Late Heath Ledger. An act which has no parallels in the superhero series of movies. Walking on that path and trying to explore the origins of the Joker is really an impossible task. Especially following the interpretation of the Joker by Christopher Nolan and the fantastic depiction on screen by the great Heath Ledger.
Coming to the movie, it is a dark movie and dark in the impossible sense of meaning. It some times feels stifling. A lot many people might just squirm in their seats throughout the run time or may not get involved in the movie at all. It’s not an everybodys movie to watch. The doom and gloom of the decadent city of Gotham aka NewYork is depicted well. Right from the first scene the whole movie is shrouded in a dark and hopeless atmosphere. Establishing the Jokers daily routine takes quite a lot of time. His daily return from work to his dilapidated apartment building. His checking the mail box for any letters from Thomas Wayne before entering his apartment. Because his bedridden mother is an ex-employee of Thomas Wayne the rich and famous business-man of Gotham and keeps on writing letters to Wayne for financial help. His routine of caring for his old mother and his interaction with her shows his mental status of a child in the body of a grown up man. And his interaction with a young single mother on his floor depict the delusional side of his nature. Trying hard to become a standup comedian but working as a clown in the streets depicts the conflicted mind.
Somehow things start going wrong in his life from here and he is somehow always at the receiving end. Some due to fate some due to his nature. Things go wrong at his workplace and he his also made fun of by a TV show anchor played by the legendary Robert DeNiro.
Then comes the revelations of his past life and his torture by his mother’s boyfriend and everything starts collapsing around him. The lack of anti psychotic medicines due to closing down of the city mental health OPD adds to his increased delusional and maniacal behaviour. And then the Climax. A bit predictable.
There are two problems with the movie. And they are in the script and the direction. Both are confused regarding how to show the journey of Arthur Fleck to the maniacal and chaotic Joker.
The Joker in the “Dark knight” is maniacal but not delusional. Grandiose but not ignorant. In the movie “Dark knight” he is sort of a loose cannon. He has no ideology and takes no sided. He is on his own and works for himself. He is chaos and there are no other motives for his actions rather than causing chaos. And lastly he is never predictable.
But in “Joker” all his actions have a single motive and that is revenge and due to that they become predictable. They are not intended to cause chaos. But they do cause chaos by an unexpected turn of fate. That is due to the ongoing civic strife in the city.
One cannot and should not compare. But as this movie is about the origins of the Joker the comparison is unavoidable.
Secondly in delving into the past and the mental illness of the Joker the director dwells much deeper. And in his endeavour to show the abused mind he loses the track. On second thoughts this could have been a very good movie about the life of people with mental health issues. The director was anyways half way through on that journey. The movie unintentionally, but to a good effect highlights the life and the trauma and the suffering of people with mental health issues. Unintentionally during the climactic monologue of the joker the movie underlines the society’s apathy towards them. And the consequences thereof. Whoops!!! Missed a beautiful chance.
But then trying to do a balancing act between the mental health issues and the rise of Joker the movie falls flat between the two.
The saving grace is Joaquin Phoenix. What an act. It’s an Oscar worthy act. The body language is a class act. The erratic unbalanced walk and clumsy movements are superbly shown. The confusion, the delusions and the seething anger, all hidden behind the vacuous smile, vacant eyes and the unnatural laugh are worth watching. Even after giving powerhouse performances in most of his previous movies, right from “8mm” as Max California to “Ladder49” and “Gladiator” he is a highly underrated actor in Hollywood. With Joker he has found his Mojo and a huge audience. From here on there will be no looking back for him. Few years back Joaquin Phoenix had quit his acting career due to the Suicide of his brother River Phoenix. Somehow he came back and now there is no turning back for him.
Watch the movie only for Joaquin Phoenix. If you like the premise then it will be an added bonus.
Perfect description. Very well analysed