Joaquin Phoenix, Todd Philips And The Resurgence Of The Anti-Hero


This hysterical laugh needs no introduction as the one character who pops up in our mind is the JOKER. Such was the impact created by Heath Ledger and Christopher Nolan in "The Dark Knight". And to this impressive performance comes another that will be talked about for some time to come - Joaquin Phoenix and Todd Philips's The JOKER.

The JOKER is a supremely dark movie set in the backdrop of Gotham City in the 1970's. We are introduced to Arthur Fleck, an aspiring stand up comedian and a troubled character who is unsupported by his friends and laughed at by his co workers and fellow Gothamites on a running train.

In the opening scene, where Arthur is seen sitting and preparing for his daily routine, he can be seen stretching his mouth with his fingers to bring on a forced smile when a tear drops down and it goes completely unnoticed. Philips made a surprise revelation that it was not in the shot, but it just happened as Joaquin couldn't stop himself from feeling the agony of the character. Now, this revelation drove me crazy towards Joaquin Phoenix's dedication and commitment towards his portrayal of Arthur Fleck.

Fleck's mother tells him that he was meant to “bring joy and laughter into this world” and it is something that the character struggles with throughout the film. After being fired for bringing a gun to a children’s hospital – Arthur is welcomed by jerks where one of them sings “Send in the Clowns” at him and they proceed to beat him up. Suddenly, without realizing it himself, Arthur shoots one in self-defense, and then the other two. After shooting the wounded survivor to death, Arthur locks himself in a bathroom, and then the switch occurs that turns Arthur into Joker: He dances around slowly, the fear turning into a sense of power. Joaquin improvises again thereby strengthening the plot of the movie and the Joker is born.

After shooting into the face of his idol(Murray), Arthur becomes a cult hero for like minded losers who spark violence and riots through the Gotham City. On being arrested for Murray's murder, an instinctive shot shows Arthur smiling at the carnage sparked by him. He is then rescued and stands triumphant on top of the car. While he is cheered by clowns around, he spreads the blood across his cheeks thereby establishing his trademark sign. This scene is easily one of the best in the film.

Joaquin Phoenix has given it his all to present an iconic version of the comic world’s most famous anti-hero. I'm sure, and I know you will agree when I say Heath Ledger would be proud of Joaquin's performance. Also we need to doff our hats to Philips for envisioning the character in such an innovative yet painful manner and bringing it to life on screen without compromising its essence.

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