Hi everyone, I’m back after a couple of weeks away — partly because I’ve been too lazy to write anything, partly because there wasn’t something very good to write about.
I got to watch a few things during my time off though, with the biggest being Joker.
So here I am on this lazy Sunday afternoon, writing a review for the movie “Joker”.
SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Joker. If you have not yet seen the film, continue at your own risk!
About those who haven’t watched it yet, let me remind you that this movie is not entertaining. There’s no romance, action, or drama. If you’re uncomfortable while watching Joker, then that’s very good; you’re not allowed to feel happy with this movie. Don’t expect it to cater to ideals of good and evil, where evil is always vanquished by the forces of good. There’s no Batman to save your day. There are no explosions, no CGI fight sequences, nothing flashy to be found to take your mind off of the things you see. Cinema is often an escape from the world and its troubles, but Joker forces you to face the world and your own faults head-on.
A failed stand up comedian is driven to a life madness and crime in Gotham City.
STARRING: Joaquin Phoenix
WRITTEN BY: Todd Phillips & Scott Silver
DIRECTED BY: Todd Phillips
DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Bros.
The Single Dimensional Plot:
Set in the early 1980s, Gotham City is in the sewers and there are sightings of giant rats. Arthur Fleck. Sad, lonely, malnourished, late 30s guy is living with his old mother in Gotham, working as a clown for hire. He has some uncontrollable laughing condition but is struggling hard to put a smile on his face. He wants to become a standup comedian and is bullied on a regular basis.
Gotham City is going downhill. Social services funding cuts mean that Arthur Fleck is on his own. His delusions have started taking over. He kills three employees of Wayne Enterprise when he was dressed as a clown. Then he feels empowered and enjoys killing (with slow and weird dance). First time experiences freedom! Then he kisses a single mom neighbor( Turns out that his relationship with Sophie was one of his delusions). Begins dating her. His standup show. Thomas Wayne comments about ‘clown’ and lower class. Unrest emerges in the city, he is the trigger. Chase for the killer is ongoing.
He discovers that he is the son of Thomas Wayne. Goes on to meet Thomas and Bruce Wayne and gets rejected. Knows the truth about sadistic, mentally ill and delusional mother. In a rage, he kills his own mother. Meanwhile, Murry Franklin (his inspiration) makes fun of his standup show on TV. Later he also gets an invitation to attend his show. On the day of the show, his clown friends arrive at his home, he kills one of them brutally and let the other leave. After killing, dresses up as Joker we want to see, deceives police on his tail. Tricks them and provokes crowd to hurt them.
At Murray’s show, he confronts him for humiliation, gives a lousy speech about the system and all (not a climax speech), and shoots him in the face in front of the audience. The city is already in chaos due to clown incidence. Clown has become a symbol of lower-class workers. Riots everywhere. While police are taking him, he got hit by a truck. Clown mask crowd rescues him. He stands upon a wrecked car with a bloody smile on his face. Joker rises! We see Arthur with a psychiatrist. Has gained weight than earlier. Looks different. Smiles and jokes. Kills the therapist and leaves room dancing.
The Twists and Ambiguities:
Although this movie is not as multilayered as the likes of the movie Fight Club, it does have an unreliable narration. The whole narration has that ambiguity that might make viewers question how much truth there is to what is depicted in the DC film, including its deliberately murky ending.
Is Thomas Wayne the real dad of Arthur?
One of the most surprising and important plot developments in Joker is the revelation that Arthur Fleck may or may not be the illegitimate son of Thomas Wayne. Official documents suggest that Arthur is indeed an adopted son, also Penny’s credibility is questionable due to the fact that she was previously diagnosed with delusional psychosis and spent time in mandated institutional care.
Of course, we can’t just be blinded by “official” documents, particularly because of the significant influence Thomas Wayne has in Gotham City. He certainly wouldn’t be the first billionaire in history (fictional or otherwise) to try and cover up a scandal by declaring his accuser mentally incompetent. We see a photograph of Penny with the affectionate note on the back: “Love your smile – TW.”
While the film leaves it ambiguous, I think the evidence points in the direction of Thomas actually being Arthur’s father, and the adoption papers being forged evidence to try and cover the tracks of a famous billionaire politician having an illegitimate son he effectively abandoned
So, yes, Thomas Wayne can actually be the real father of Arthur.
Did Arthur ever actually leave the hospital?
Going from the beginning to the end of Joker, it’s also noteworthy that the film concludes with Arthur back in therapy and surrounded by white walls – laughing at a joke inside his head “you wouldn’t get.” Is the joke the idea that anybody could pin down a specific origin story for the legendary chaotic character?
It’s not entirely clear whether or not any of the events that are depicted actually happen, or if they are all just bits of creativity from the imagination of Arthur Fleck, who has spent years locked away in Arkham State Hospital.
Is Arthur Fleck “The” Joker?
One question that has persisted around Joker long before its release is about the story fitting and co-existing with what we all recognize as the traditional Batman narrative – which is to say having young Bruce Wayne watch his parents get murdered in an alley and grow up to fight crime (and The Joker) as a costumed vigilante. Over the last few months, many have pointed out the odd math that the film introduces, namely that Joaquin Phoenix is 35 years older than Dante Pereira-Olson (who plays Bruce Wayne), and fans have wondered if it would be something that the movie would directly address.
And in a way, it does. There is no questioning that Arthur Fleck goes through a transformative experience, and part of that transformation is wearing clown makeup and committing to a murderous lifestyle – but he’s noticeably not the only one who makes that kind of a leap. Thanks to Arthur’s subway killings, and the rhetoric used by Thomas Wayne, there are many Gothamites who use clown disguises to take part in anti-social behavior, and it very much inspires a wave of class warfare. As he becomes Joker, Arthur is held up as a leader of the movement, particularly after the televised murder of Murray Franklin, but one could imagine that while he becomes a figurehead, he’s not necessarily the one and only who, years in the future, will go up against Batman.
If Dante Pereira-Olson’s Bruce Wayne is 25 when he returns to Gotham after years training abroad, that will mean that Arthur is 60 – and while Joker has never been depicted as much of a match for Batman physically, there is an angle where that showdown has a touch of “beating up an old man.” As an alternative, perhaps this universe is more in-line with the one created by Tim Burton in 1989, and it will actually be the man who is shown killing Thomas and Martha Wayne who becomes the Dark Knight’s most famous foe.
In the case of this particular question, the answer is a bit more ambiguous because it is not really an issue that Joker is ultimately concerned with. This is notably a Joker movie and NOT a Batman and Joker movie, so what could potentially happen in the future with that relationship isn’t the most important thing being kept into consideration.
Given this long boring analysis, the story of the movie Joker is – a mix of excerpts from his past and future plans of Joker to create chaos in Gotham.
Arthur is just a decoy. Real joker is the last one sitting in Arkham asylum, admitted there for ‘delusional psychosis’ and ‘NPD’. Mostly he was abused as a child and lived a life without knowing who his father is. Probably, he has killed his mother and a friend, because of which he is there. These are possible excerpts from joker’s life.
The Real Origin of JOKER is still a mystery, as expected!
My Rating: 8/10