Words by Verity Hayday
Arthur Fleck walks through a despondent Gotham; like a ghost in his own home. He exists amongst the trash cans and run down strip clubs that clutter the discarded city. He is yet another unseen member of society silently falling into the shadows and excepting his fate of never being heard. For someone who’s aim it is to bring happiness to the world, you wonder how they could be so unfortunate, why is happiness such a hopeless task for a clown? Arthur Fleck is followed by a deep sadness that even a painted smile can’t hide and will haunt him until he is heard, a desperate man is a dangerous one.
Arthur’s battle with finding the feeling of true happiness is painful and intense from beginning to end, and a cocktail of medication is what has been his only answer. His child like characteristics make you want to hand the answers to him if you had it them, but a helping hand is not come across easy in 1980’s Gotham with a failed system, there are definitely no superheroes as we’ve seen before in the DC universe. But Arthur is not a mastermind villain; he doesn’t have a mastermind plan and his actions aren’t driven by blind hatred. He has a point to make and a message to bring to the world, but someone who has been forced into craziness and a tortured soul doesn’t know how to do that without causing a storm.
Director Todd Phillips painted an unfamiliar Gotham, one that is a little too realistic for some and a harsh but insanely realistic representation of a failed system, yet still running on the broken promises of an ignorant mayor (Brett Cullen) and distracted by the mindless entertainment of an oblivious talk show host (Robert De Niro). The dark, grungy city raises its community just like how it has been raised, neglected and overlooked. We can smell the air and feel the pain of the the city through the cinematic masterpiece that he has created, with a soundtrack that brings goosebumps to the skin and tension in your chest. For a movie that is driven by one character, we follow him through his deranged tragedy and witness the birth of Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker.
The Joker has come a long way since his first adaption in film, portrayed by Cesar Romero in the 1960’s Batman series. From a man who is in no doubt crazy, the Joker has always had wit and comedic talents, the character lives and breathes the joker almost like they were born with the make up on. But seeing him stripped of his disguise has brought a whole new light and humanization to the character, it is not a film about ‘The Joker’ it is about Arthur and how the world around him has molded him into a mascot for the clinically insane. Watching Phoenix take on a role that tackles such an intense look at mental illness alongside the rebirth of a DC super villain, proves his talents and diverse acting methods. His take on the Joker is one that you won’t forget as much as you will want to.