After seeing the Joker film, I am left with more questions then answers I could potentially provide. The movie is one that has started controversy because of the depiction of the character “Arthur Fleck” by Joaquin Phoenix. So here are my initial reaction. And check out the Laracuente Ledger Network YouTube channel as the Basement with Zach has discussed many things going on in Gotham City. Zach also previously penned an article about this movie way back in February of 2018, The Jokers Origin Movie. And the A&J Double Play gave some thoughts before the release of Joker as well.
This article will contain spoilers for the film. So fair warning if you continue reading.
Incredible Portrayal by Joaquin Phoenix
Going in to see Joker, I expected an Oscar-worthy performance from Joaquin Phoenix. The man is a brilliant actor and rarely delivers a performance that is less than stellar. Joaquin portrayed a man at the end of his rope, both mentally and physically. The transformation that Phoenix underwent to play the character of Arthur Fleck was a total change to his physical condition.
Joaquin Phoenix is known as an actor that dives deep into his roles. And Joaquin would study mental illness. And how those that suffer from different illnesses react to different situations. This level of dedication to his craft is what I believe will net Phoenix an Oscar for his performance as Arthur Fleck.
All In His Head
The closing moments of the film raises more questions than a personality test. But Todd Phillip’s Joker leaves you questioning. Questioning whether what you spent the last two hours watching was even real. The character of Arthur Fleck was a man plagued by illnesses that unleashed his inner demons. As the film reached its climax, Arthur would deliver a shot heard round the world by shooting Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro) on his television show. This act of “justice” (in Arthur’s mind) would begin the riots that would free Fleck from his mental prison.
Arthur Fleck would then find himself across from a social worker laughing. And when asked what was so funny, Fleck would tell her that she wouldn’t understand the joke. The next scene would have Arthur walking in bloody footprints to being chased by orderlies in the halls of Arkham State Hospital (Arkham Asylum.) Thus the question must be asked what really happened? Was it all in Arthur’s head?
Needs a Second Look
Films like Joker boggle the mind; they force the viewer to ponder what was witnessed. And sometimes, with movies of this viewing caliber, they need more than one viewing to absorb the full nature of the presentation. Joker is one such film. Whether you accept this interpretation as the “real” backstory behind Gotham’s favorite villain, or not, is irrelevant to the film’s incredible story. The tale of Arthur Fleck and his transformation into the Clown Prince of Crime needs a second look to appreciate fully the brilliance that was on the screen.