Assuming you read my article Getting The Joke, part 1, you already know my thoughts on the DC Comics standalone film, Joker. However, I want to give an analysis on key moments from the movie, aka, SPOILERS.
-I was fascinated by Arthur’s sudden bursts of laughter being due to a rare condition, as if he were, in a way, cursed by comedy.
-The first act of the movie really hammered home just how much people really screw with Arthur. From being constantly badgered by one of his co-workers in the clown company, to being jumped by young punks in an alley, or being attacked by a group of (Gotham City) Wall Street traders after he thwarts their harassment of a woman on a subway, which sets up Arthur’s first kill. After seeing how bad the traders beat him, I realized that the act of him pulling out a revolver was one of self-defense, thus making those killings somewhat justified.
-The Thomas Wayne element of the story, and the possibility of him being Arthur’s father (meaning he a little Bruce are, aha! Bros!) was welcomed, but predictable, especially with the Joker and Batman characters often being hailed as each other’s yin and yang. Outside of that, Wayne is also a bit of an asshole in this film.
-The second kill by Arthur (against the mean co-worker mentioned earlier)… not as gory as some are cracking it up to be, but visceral nonetheless. Also, he let his former little person co-worker that arrived with the mean one, live. After he watched the kill in horror, of course. As Arthur helps his former-co-worker open the door to get out, Arthur says to him “You were always nice to me.”
-Robert DeNiro’s performance, for me, was one where for a while, I forgot it was him. He really seemed to embody the role of the Johnny Carson-esque (Google him) late night talk show host Murray Franklin in a similar fashion that Joaquin Phoenix does with our future Clown Prince of Crime, while also in a weird way, bringing DeNiro’s role in 1983’s The King of Comedy, full circle (Google that too). Franklin is hilarious and quite likable, which makes it more heartbreaking when Joker shoots him in the head after making an on-air interview tirade.
-Over the past couple of decades, there’s seems to be… almost an obsession with the character of The Joker among fans of the Batman mythos (and if I see ONE MORE meme saying “Oh, I want a love like Joker and Harley”… damn, just Google the term “Stockholm Syndrome” please?). In this movie, there’s a clear-cut commentary by director Todd Phillips on that obsession. The Gotham City public becomes gradually more taken with him as more reports come out of how he killed the Wall Street traders. They gravitate to him because of what they think he’s stands for, which leads to the amplification of that obsession in the third act riot sequence with everyone wearing clown masks (Which also shoehorns the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne in the midst of the chaos).
-Which leads to the ending… Arthur (now having fully embraced the Joker moniker) is a bright white room speaking to a psychiatrist. She is asking him to talk about what transpired with him up until this point. Upon her request, Arthur looks up, with cigarette in hand and says
“You wouldn’t get it.”
It was in that moment that I realized that the whole movie was likely a story that he made up. One. Big. Lie. Throughout the history of the Joker character, one of the cornerstones of his being is the fact that he always lies about his origin. Whether it’s in the Batman comics, the 90’s animated series, or Heath Ledger’s performance in The Dark Knight, when it comes to his own origin, he prefers to have multiple choice answers, aka, lie. After all, the film does reveal that his “girlfriend” and neighbor (played by Zazzie Beets) was just simply his creeped-out neighbor, while his entire relationship with her was just a figment of his imagination. Since that is the case, why wouldn’t he lie about anything else?
To sum it all up, Joker, is a fine remake of Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver (Get back to Googling). More than that, the film is a cautionary tale about how some people with mental health issues are mistreated, how someone could be just one moment away from going completely off the deep end and down a dark evil path, and how delusions of grandeur can affect one’s perspective on their own life no matter how tragic it may be. I must re-iterate that despite the movie empathizing with Arthur in the first act, it does not glorify the murders he commits, or the way he stirred up the public (at least in the apparent delusion in his head). Also, the movie is nowhere near as violent as some people would lead you to believe. There hasn’t been a film that debuted with as much controversy as Joker in quite a while, and maybe one day we’ll all look back on the hype, hoopla and fascination and say that we all got the joke.
photo cred: Warner Bros.