Tuesday, May 28, 2024

‘Joker’: We are all mad here

Tapatrisha Das

A public washroom, a blood smeared gun, two feet slow dancing with fingers drawing patterns in air, a face smeared with colors of a clown that has just killed three guys in the subway – I think that’s where Joaquin Phoenix rose over the story-line, the camera, the screenplay, the knitty gritties of film-making.

Based on the much celebrated villain of DC – the villain who is famously loved more than the hero; Joker with all its boundaries of not trespassing  a legendary comic book story-line, makes it possible to have a glance at how it feels to be a villain – when deep inside, you’re killing yourself every minute.

“Is it just me, or is it really crazy out there?”

That scene where Arthur Fleck goes on saying that he has never been happy for even a single moment in his life, and his psychologist says she has some bad news for him, and he bursts out saying – “You never really listen to me, right? All I have are negative thoughts..” – There, right there, he speaks for each one of us, who cries internally and shrieks for an ear, to just rant, to just dilute the sorrows for a moment and all his monologues goes in vain.

Since the beginning of the movie, I kept imagining how the climax would look like – would it be a hero coming and killing him; or would the authorities rise against and get him jailed (though the anarchy hero that Joker is, thinking of him behind bars made me have a ‘fleck’ of a smirk); or would he just put a huge something on fire and go and mix up in a crowd of clowns – denoting how a Joker resides in each of us, and sometimes we don’t put on a mask, rather we unmask.

But the story-line goes beyond all chances of imagination – I’m yet to see a better visualization on screen that establishes – how, when madness ends up in a cage, it’s madness that rescues it.

Though the story-line moves in it’s own velocity, somewhere letting us justify in us that breaking into laughter is not a ‘condition’ to be printed front and back on a card that strangers would care to not read, but it’s just being ourselves.

And in the course of the movie, somewhere we all become Arthur Fleck, with our heart thumping when his sign is taken by some rowdy kids, they break it on his face and kick him on the face. Somewhere, when he shoots the bullies in the subway when they come to take his case, you know it is justified – that tolerance of all sorts, still has a limit at the end of it’s definition.

And by the end of the movie, with the fire of anarchy everywhere, you find yourself in a moral crisis of sorts – and with the almost-dead Arthur rising up on the front of the caravan and dancing to the maddening cheers of the troop of clowns he has inspired, you know by then that Arthur was never the villain – he was the answer the deprived, down-trodden, tortured and robbed-by-the-authority class of people were seeking, all this while.

No matter how much I write about this movie, I’ll always be leaving out something, because there is so much to the movie, but then one thing stuck me right from the beginning to the end is the font of its credits – the typical Disney kid-like font – Yes right, we all tap a child inside us, and that child loves madness.

Tapatrisha Das
Tapatrisha Das
Tapatrisha Das is a freelance journalist and creative writer. She writes on movies and arts.


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