I think by now most people have seen the Joaquin Phoenix’s eponymous Joker which many people have dubbed to be one of the favourites to win this year’s Academy Awards. The Joker is unlike any other comic-book movie you would’ve ever see. It is not your typical slam-bam action movie which was something that was highlighted even in the trailers — it steered more towards a brooding psychological thriller in the mould of Scorcese’s like Taxi Driver and King of Comedy. But there are bits which make it fantastic; a truly special movie more so than even Avenger’s Endgame which also plays mind-games with your head especially after you’ve watched it a couple of times. Allow me to explain why.
- The most distinct thing about the Joker is the way Phoenix portrays the character showcasing a subtle slow-burning transition into the maniacal psychopath who goes on to become the nemesis of Gotham’s caped crusader. You feel bad for him, you feel creeped out by him, you’re eerily spooked by him, yet when he commits horrible crimes you feel for him. He matched if not surpassed the iconic performance by the late Heath Ledger in the Dark Knight.
- Todd Philips has said in many interviews that the plan is to keep this as a standalone movie with no hooks into the broader DC universe. Now that this movie is a commercial and critical success, it will be very hard for Phoenix’s Joker to not show up in future DC movies, particularly Batman. But they have done such an incredible job with the storyline in terms of timeline which will make it impossible for them to integrate with any future DC movie as this has been designed as a prequel. Come what may, this version of the Joker, even if reprised by Phoenix, isn’t coming back.
- Now here is the mind-bending stuff which is also riddled with spoilers — there are so many sequences where it is later revealed in the movie that the Joker is just imagining things. The interesting bit is that I believe the entire movie could be a dream sequence or an illusion in the Jokers head. In an interview, Todd Philips says that the only time, the Joker, truly laughs is during the ending in the asylum. In that sequence, when the psychiatrist asks Arthur why he was laughing he states that “you will not understand the joke”. This could lead to the fact that everything before was a dream sequence for him just the way he imagined having a relationship with his neighbour.
- It is also a movie that will trigger people who have had a tryst with mental issues will find this too realistic ( though some people will disagree). More so people who’ve been bullied in their childhood will get triggered which makes this quite a disturbing movie on many accounts.