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Spoiler Discussion: Joker (2019)

If you have been on the Internet for the past two weeks, it will become apparent to you how huge the Joker discussion has become. Whether you look at it from a critical viewpoint of what everyone thought of the film or more of a business standpoint and how the media has perhaps helped the huge amount of money it has made at the box office, it is hard to ignore the impact this film has had. Many people have asked me to do this, and now I have seen the film a second time I feel confident in writing this post up. Here is my spoiler discussion for Joker.

Oh, and if the title and opening paragraph didn’t give a clear enough warning to you, there are spoilers in this post (duh!). If you have not been able to get out to the cinema and see this film yet, please go and do this as soon as you can.

Joker (2019) – source: Warner Bros. Pictures

In April, I saw a little film titled Avengers: Endgame. That film instantly topped my best of 2019 list, and I had made a comment saying how I did not believe any other film would top it this year. Whilst I was anticipating my love for Joker and being optimistic about it from the trailers and synopsis, I was expecting perhaps entering the top ten at best. I am now sitting in a position where Joker is officially my favourite film of 2019 so far.

If anyone knows me, they will know that I am a sucker for these sorts of films. The psychological thrillers. The comic-book film with a twist of another genre. This may be based on films such as The King of Comedy and Taxi Driver, but it feels completely fresh to the film slate of 2019. To me, this film takes a lot of risks, both narratively and stylistically, and I appreciate the choices that were made throughout.

I had made a comment in my non-spoiler review that Joker reminded me of a film that is in my top three films of all time: Psycho. I couldn’t go into details as to why in that review, but here I can talk about why this comparison is so obvious. As soon as I saw the closeness to Arthur Fleck and his mother Penny, I knew it was going to turn into a Psycho style relationship. There is something that is soul-destroying about seeing someone that close to a person such as a mother betray and hurt their child. This film took it to another level, making even the audience play mind games about her loyalty and trust in comparison to Thomas Wayne.

Joker (2019) – source: Warner Bros. Pictures

Transitioning onto the topic of Thomas Wayne, a lot of people are saying that Thomas was done “dirty” in this film, but to me, I figured that was the point of the narrative style. This entire film is presented in rose-coloured glasses over Arthur Fleck’s eyes, so whatever he feels is what he wants the audience to feel. Thomas appears as an untrustworthy, evil man because that is exactly how Arthur feels. Would anyone be comfortable having a creepy man come and touch their children’s mouth? I seriously doubt it. He is protective and he cares about his family and I do think he cared about the town, even if Arthur didn’t believe so.

Many people have also questioned the unreliable narrative structure of the film. There are some moments where the audience is strictly told what is unreliable and what is the truth, and there are some moments that are ambiguous. Here is how I interpreted it: whilst Arthur Fleck is on his medication at the start of the film, he is clearly hallucinating a lot of sections, and there are some thin lines that can be interpreted one way or another. When he is off his medications, or he is in a moment of control due to violence and in his Joker persona, his memory is clear and the narrative is truthful to what we are shown. This could be the wrong way to interpret it, but that is how I see the scenes happen.

The entire film is breathtaking in so many aspects from start to finish, but I now want to highlight a few sequences that had me in shock. In what I first expected to be the weakest part of the film, I ended up loving what they did with Zazie Beetz’s character and that storyline. I had a slight feeling that it was an illusion in Arthur’s head, but it is still haunting when she discovers him sitting in her apartment. I also love that we as an audience are left wondering if he killed her or not, giving enough clues to both suggest that he did and he didn’t. In case you are wondering, I am still unsure what to think.

Joker (2019) – source: Warner Bros. Pictures

From the sequence of Arthur and his two workmates up until the very end, I was holding my breath throughout most of that ending. There was a great balance between humour and suspense with the two workmates, knowing how to make the audience uncomfortable both from the situation and the very dark humour of the dwarf unable to escape by himself. The talk show sequence was so beautifully executed by every person, even the guests in the background reacting perfectly. I should have seen the murder coming, but I was honestly left shocked.

What may end up being my favourite cinematic moment of 2019 for me comes in the sequence of the riots after the talk show murder. There was so much to take in visually from this sequence, and I also love how this moment actually gave a reason for the Wayne family to be seen in a dark alley, the location that Martha and Thomas Wayne are famously murdered at. The best frame of the film though, and many others may agree with me here, is the moment when Arthur Fleck takes the blood around his mouth and paints a clown smile with it. It was an incredible moment to watch on the big screen.

Many people are debating at what moment in the film Arthur Fleck turns into the Joker. For me, the Joker as a character is way smarter than Arthur Fleck is throughout the entirety of the film. Whilst the smiling shot may have been a more aesthetically pleasing ending for me, the final sequence of this film is crucial. When Arthur Fleck is laughing at something and the staff at the Arkham Asylum asks him what is funny, his response of “You won’t get it.” is the first real sign of pure mischief and smart-thinking that I see off of Fleck. It is at that moment, right before he inevitably kills the staff member, that to me he is finally the Joker.

Joker (2019) – source: Warner Bros. Pictures

I feel like I have only scratched the surface when it comes to Joker, and I am sure to make more blog posts about this film if you guys keep finding yourself as interested in this film as I am. I could talk about the film choice of Modern Times being included, why I think the Gary Glitter song choice is relevant to that particular moment in film (and why I’m personally okay with the song in the film) and maybe even a discussion on how the media perhaps helped boost a film they were afraid of. If you are interested in any of these topics, please let sure to let me know.

What did you make of my analysis of this film? Do you have a different viewpoint from me, or did I spark something you never thought about? Let me know down below and let’s have a discussion, but make sure not to spoil it on social media for those who haven’t seen it yet.

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