When I entered the theatre, I heard many people speak about how Joaquin won’t ever compare to Heath’s joker.
Man, were they right!
Joaquin’s Joker will NEVER compare to Heath’s because they can’t’ be compared at all. All these people went quiet five minutes into the movie. All I could hear in the first half was ‘OMG’, ‘That’s creepy!’ from these ‘good little boys (and girls). In the second half, people said ‘fuck!’ more times than they would in their beds. Some couples understood they cannot cuckoo-doodle while the Joker was playing. Wrong movie for a date!
The affect the movie had on every one was surprisingly chilling. The last time I remember people in theatres this affected by a movie was for Interstellar. No, not even Star Wars, John Wick, marvel and DC, etc movies had this affect. Offcourse, Interstellar left a dazzling, almost psychedelic emotion.
Joker, on the other hand, left a dark and scary one.
I watched Joker twice myself before I sat to break down why this movie will go down in history. Spoilers ahead!
Pro-tip: Please watch Joker in IMAX!
It goes without saying that he is a man full of acting talent. In Joker, he has surpassed any limit you could imagine. He played perfectly in every scene to the tune of the music. The dance after the subway killing was most easily one of the best scenes in the history of cinema! The Joker is born in that dingy bathroom. Arthur slips deeper into his newly discovered self. It is as if Phoenix is literally making Joker come out of Arthur’s ashes in a spooky dance ritual!
From scene one to the last, you will notice the micro-expressions on Joaquin’s face sound louder than his symbolic Joker’s laugh. His laugh… it gives you chills! It is sad, hollow, sarcastic and painful all in one – except for in Murray Franklin Show! I thinks that is where he truly laughs, after realising who he really is and breaking free of the binds.
I could go scene by scene and describe the beauty that this man has created in every one of them, but let’s just talk about the last scene for now; the very last scene where he’s talking to a psychiatrist in Arkham. The scene starts with his laugh in a real tight close up. If you were in an IMAX, you would see every line of his face deliver a dialogue. His eyes show you the dark, horrible place he lives in! The black, burnt cigarette on his finger, the way he starts singing to the tune and coming out of the room leaving footprints of blood behind… it was unexpected and freaked people out! How did he kill her? Why did he kill her? Was he telling the doctor his story and flashback? Was he captured after the rally and telling her the story? Was it all imagined and reality was something else? People are unsettled!
Here’s my take: It all happened as we saw in the movie and he’s now imprisoned in Gotham Asylum, waiting for Batman to appear and in the meanwhile having fun screwing with mad-heads and Dr. Harley. What say?
A sad violin and cello at the start, and trumpets and louder drum beats (not sure about the exact instruments) when the Arthur gets his mojo on and begins to turn into Joker. Hildur Guðnadóttir (yes, it’s a SHE) has done a brilliant job! At first, I thought if Hans has come back for composing, but lo and behold! It’s this beauty who has made music so intense and resounding that it fits the Joker and his complex being!
After the subway shooting, the scene with the dance was not actually a part of the script. It was after Todd and Joaquin heard an extra music piece from Hildur that Joaquin thought of this dance! It expresses Joker from the roots; a person who just wanted a family, love and his dream of being praised for his art but instead became trash like in the alleys of Gotham. He was mistreated, beaten, shouted at and now, in this scene, he embraces himself and his darkness. Without her music and the awesome choice of songs, people wouldn’t have felt their skins crawl. For me, it was such an art I had goosebumps both times I watched the movie.
Direction, Cinematography, Effects
Ok, so each one of these pieces are great support in making Joker the movie it is. Todd has gone above and beyond to make it artful! Several things that brought magic to the screen was:
Framing: The golden composition, framing Arthur in the centre of curtains amidst the lights, showing his face in the mirrors, all the angle low and high changing with his condition! Once noticeable angle for me was when Arthur runs down the stairs with his mother’s file and the scene goes out with a top angle, diagonal if I may say, but keeping Arthur in the composition and framing him with the silhouette of the stairs. It made me feel how unhinged, shaky, helpless he was! The area lit in the scene was just the spot where Arthur stood and the rest was framed beautifully with the stairs. There are many scenes in Joker like this, using black, blurs and silouettes while framing arthur in the position with lights. Which gets me to the next part.
Lighting: There are three types of lights I noticed. The first one is greenish, dark and unsettling, showing the world where Arthur lives in. Another light that sets a grand mood is bright, yellow and around the rich folks (like in Murray’s studio and The theatre Thomas Wayne attends). This difference sets their WOLRDS apart! The third light is what I call the stark truth. The white light setting of the Gotham Asylum where we see Penny Fleck in her younger years and Arthur in the last scene. Surely, the movie has natural light settings. But notice the shadowy spot Arthur is in.
Todd has taken every shot with care. He has utilised Joaquin’s extraordinary expressions and conveyed the story. In the beginning, we see Arthur put on his makeup looking dissatisfied and unhappy. He pushes a smile across his face, or rather a grin. He just wants to be happy. Arthur does that to Bruce too in the short visit to Wayne manor. He just wants to make him smile! The delicate feeling of a complex character comes out, but hold on! It’s creepier than you think. The overt smile he gives himself, pushing his cheeks up takes creepy to Joker level!
Last but not the least, the story and the screenplay
A story writer is the base of a movie. Screenplay is the cemented ground ready to have a skyscraper built on it. The job was done without a gap! There are no loose ends, no waste word or dialogue. There is no scene that doesn’t connect. One by one, the scenes fit like a puzzle and give you a picture! In the two times I watched the movie, I wasn’t bored at a single scene nor did I feel like forwarding the movie. It is that compact and structured! Take a bow to Todd and Scott!
The more I describe, the less I feel I can convey my feelings for this movie. All I can say is I’m going to make generations after me watch this! Joker is absolutely riveting, chilling and one of the kind that makes you think about it forever. Have a look at the scenes below.
How did you perceive Joker? Let me know in comments!