‘Joker’, a thriller drama movie based on a comic book humdinger character, Joker himself. We’ve known Joker as a villain from the Batman movie series. Except for the comic lovers. Joker, a psychopath from the streets of Gotham City, who turns nightmares into realities for the citizens of the city. However, Todd Phillips’ Joker tells us a different story Joker. The story behind his lunacy.
Arthur Fleck, a failed standup comedian, faces criticism, torture and emotional hampers from the outside world. He tries to engrosses limelight from people around him, but his failures and pain have made him worthless for people. And as the famous dialogue of Joker suggests, All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy.” And that is what has made this character different from everyone else in society.
Fans of the Batman Comics would know that this quote comes from Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s ‘The Killing Joke’, a seminal 1988 graphic novel. The movie has only a handful of influences from the comic books.
Although Joker is considered the most infamous and lunatic villains of all times from DC comics, the movie has portrayed his character as a human than as a villain. Director Todd Phillips, who is famous for depicting the nuisance, stupid and psychotic side of Men in his movies has invested a lot to exhibit the other side of the story. The Joker as Arthur Fleck sees it.
Joaquin Phoenix’s incredible performance as Arthur Fleck will make him your favourite Joker character ever played on the silver screen. Phoenix’s performance has perfectly portrayed the Moral decay and societal decay in this cautionary fable.
The movie may not be perfect inspiration from the comic book but inspired by the bleak philosophy of Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy. The movie is an unrelentingly distressing drama about loneliness and unchecked mental illness.
The glorious opening scene, the eye diverting moments of Arthur’s introduction scene and the jaw-dropping finale has made Todd Philips’ Joker as the best comic-based movie since Logan. Just like our lives, Arthur wished to get as far away from discomfort as possible. But Arthur Fleck Alias Joker is no exception. No matter how far he runs, the source of his problems remains, festering him in his life’s own miseries; drowning him in the despair, melancholy and decay.
Phillips has tried to give a new perspective to the audience about the character. Instead of criticism, fear and chaos, we will see pain, pity and misery of a mentally ill loner who has been ridiculed, bullied and beaten up, through his life. Not so idolized but a glorified Arthur, who is the output of the same civil society, fails as a standup comedian in his life, puts on a permanent mask of terror and to hide his frequent cries for help & fringing his identity from the world.
Although there are characters in the movie including Zazie Beetz and Robert De Niro, they merely seem like an extended cameos and the movie is largely a one man show. However, you’d be surprised to learn that the biggest presence besides Phoenix is the eerie score by Hildur Guðnadóttir with her wailing cello perfectly capturing Arthur’s fraying mental state.
Arthur may have overestimated the intellect of his audience by leaving the climax open to let people interpret & they’re own moral from the film. But yes, Joker is a great film, not because of what it provides, but because of what it withholds. It’s brave, beautiful, and bound to annoy some people.
Author: Keshav Kothari
A young CA Aspirant who is a writer and a photographer with the zeal to convey a positive perception through his work.