Table of contents:
- Tragedy in a bright shell
- The story of a little man
- A triumph of dark aesthetics
- Bad example to follow
2023 Author: Malcolm Clapton | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-22 06:26
The film received 11 Oscar nominations and brought a well-deserved award to Joaquin Phoenix.
Director Todd Phillips, once famous for his vulgar comedy series The Hangover in Vegas, unexpectedly shot one of the harshest and most emotional films not only in the comic book world, but in modern mainstream cinema in general.
"Joker" grossed over a billion dollars at the box office and received 11 Oscar nominations. As a result, Joaquin Phoenix took the award for Best Actor. Also, the American Film Academy noted the composer Hildur Gudnadouttir, who wrote the soundtrack.
And this is not just another relaunch of the story of a comic book villain, but a new film about a lost and humiliated man who is driven to a breakdown, forcing him to turn into a mad criminal.
This is the story of Arthur Fleck, a clown from Eighties Gotham. He lives with his mother in a cramped apartment, moonlights as a barker and dreams of becoming a stand-up comedian. But to Arthur's mental illness are added constant problems in life. And one day his patience comes to an end.
Tragedy in a bright shell
Of course, the first thing that attracted attention to this picture (besides the talented Joaquin Phoenix in the title role) is the new story of the origin of the famous villain, whom everyone knows not only from the original comics, but also from many screen adaptations. Around the version of the Joker, played by Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight, over time, a real cult was formed.
But Todd Phillips' film instantly makes you forget about all the predecessors, and about comics in general. This is a completely different story. As the Joker hides a sad face under a painted smile, so the plot itself uses the fictional world only as a bright wrapper.
There are no superheroes here and there cannot be. This is our reality. Dirty and gloomy Gotham of the eighties with the strike of scavengers reminds either of the devastation in those years in New York, or of the current protests in various capitals of the world.
The author did not hide the fact that "Joker" is much closer to "Taxi Driver" by Martin Scorsese than to "The Dark Knight" or "Batman".
The protagonist (aka the villain) gets a new biography, only slightly related to Alan Moore's "Murderous Joke", and a completely different image, in which there is no place for chemicals or terrible scars. And fans only get small references like Thomas Wayne, Arkham Asylum and a couple of familiar scenes.
Strictly speaking, this film could have been called quite differently, for example, simply "Arthur". Having excluded all ties with DC, the picture would not have lost at all in the plot. But to blame the director for using a familiar shell for advertising is simply impossible.
First of all, because this tape is really very strong and everyone should watch it. And without such a promotional campaign, it would be very difficult to attract viewers to a dark drama from a former comedy director. But Phillips found a way to present auteur cinema in a way that everyone is talking about now.
The story of a little man
All in the same comic by Alan Moore "Killing Joke" Joker argued that between an ordinary person and a madman there is only one bad day. The Todd Phillips film shows that this is not the case. The transformation of a quiet and downtrodden hero is not the result of one event and a bad day. His whole life, filled with humiliation, leads to this.
And therefore "Joker" is not about the victory of good over evil and not about justice. It's not even about becoming an insane criminal. This film is one of the rough and accurate statements about the life of that very “little man” in society. And even if the eighties and the United States are in the frame, the situation is the same at all times and in any country.
"Joker" shows a ruthless society in which the weak are always mocked, and the lying one is finished off with their feet. Our society.
Yes, perhaps, in the film "I've had enough" the way from an ordinary person to a criminal was shown more believable, and the negative characters looked more alive. But it is "Joker" with theatrical, if not circus, grotesque that shows all the vulgarity of politicians and media personalities.
He bluntly says that most people on the street will step over the victim of the attack and will not notice her. Arthur's tragedy is that no one sees him. For everyone, he is a function, a shadow that they want to get rid of as soon as possible. And his impulses are not a desire to change something. This is a way to become visible, real, someone whose opinion will be reckoned with.
But this is not all. At the same time, "Joker" becomes the clearest example of the problems of a person with mental illness. After all, many still try to pretend that there is no OCD or autism. And people with clinical depression, like the main character, are simply advised to smile.
Arthur's story perfectly reveals what happens when a person is forced to hide his emotions and problems all his life and does not even try to understand what is happening to him.
A triumph of dark aesthetics
But even those for whom all the voiced topics seem alien and incomprehensible should watch this film. At least for the sake of incredibly beautiful filming and amazing performance of Joaquin Phoenix.
It was not for nothing that this actor was taken on the main role. After all, a significant part of the picture is built on emotions. And the operator can only catch his rich facial expressions and every movement. A real reincarnation of the hero takes place in the frame. Suffice it to compare his laughter, stiffness and heavy gait at the beginning and constant dancing at the end.
Filming also does not resemble comics at all. This is a lot of slow plans, focusing not on the plot, but on the character himself. His movements often turn into pantomime to the music of the composer of "Chernobyl" Hildur Gudnadottir.
The visual design of "Joker" makes you fully experience the emotions of Arthur. Here he climbs the stairs with difficulty, and after the first crime he easily runs up the steps or, dancing, goes down.
His fantasy world is always more colorful than reality, immersed in gray and blue tones. And only at the very end does it become a bright spot that attracts attention to itself.
Perhaps these are not the most difficult directorial and cinematography moves. But in Joker everything works perfectly for the story. No unnecessary tightening, no complication. Exactly the way you need it.
Bad example to follow
The controversial film, even before the premiere, caused concern for the ‘Joker’: New York City Police to Deploy Additional Officers at Theaters Opening Weekend of the US authorities. After the tragic events at the premiere of The Dark Knight, many fear that The Joker will romanticize the image of an anarchist criminal and cause unrest.
But it's all in vain. Arthur Fleck is not the most lovable character. First of all, because he himself is not happy with his fate and until the last wanted everything to be fine. There is no romance in his existence, and the transformation into the Joker is just a symbol of the loss of a normal life.
And it is useless to fight the manifestations of violence when the crowds are already turning into conventional Jokers. You need to look at the root causes. The authorities of many countries often forget about this. And the hero of the film with his sinister make-up, very similar to the image of the killer clown Pogo, reminds.
Todd Phillips managed to convey the main thing that neither Nolan nor Snyder succeeded in: the Joker is not a person, but an idea, the embodiment of madness and anarchy.
The Joker leaves a very dark and painful impression. After all, the film does not even show neo-noir comics in the spirit of "The Dark Knight" or "Logan". This is a gripping story on the verge of insanity about the disgusting underside of society, the stratification of classes and general indifference to the problems of others.
The picture will surely quickly become a cult, and Joaquin Phoenix has already received almost every possible award. Yet Joker is not a film about a criminal, protest, or anarchy. It is a symbol of doom and loneliness that leads to madness. And that's why he is so addictive.