Ever since I learned about Stanley Kubrick and the meticulous detail that he put into his works, I have not been able to watch films with the same blissful ignorance that I once used to. Sure, not every film is meant to be deep and sometimes the story is simply just a story, but film directors are artists, and from everything including underlying plotlines to ways of manipulating the camera, a film will convey some aspect of the director’s vision which will add layers to whatever the main storyline is whether the viewer consciously knows it or not. I was reminded of this a month ago when I viewed Todd Phillips’ The Joker (2019) for the first time.
After Heath Ledger died in 2008, I had decided that it probably wouldn’t be worth my while to watch another film involving the Joker again, or, at the very least, to not expect much from whoever might take that role on. Ledger’s portrayal of the villain was unmatched. He made the character seem so real, and I have read that some people have stated or theorized, rather, that perhaps the actual character or entity behind the Joker had consumed him and ultimately drove him to his untimely death. I will leave that topic for those circles to discuss, but it isn’t an argument that I would immediately reject.
So, when I learned that Joaquin Phoenix had been chosen for the role of the Joker, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. He had done a phenomenal job as Commodus in The Gladiator, so I could see where there might have been potential for a solid performance, but it was still a large “if” for me. As a result, I never ended up watching the movie, until, as I mentioned before, a month ago.
It was a Saturday night, I was visiting some old friends, and in between pizza and wings, the TV screen had changed from Call of Duty to The Joker.
For those who haven’t seen it yet, watch it. It’s a great film whether you are into the D.C. universe or not.
I appreciated the angle that the story was told from (which was heavily based off of Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s The Killing Joke), and Joaquin Phoenix had captured the role perfectly for the version of the Joker that was presented. The movie occupied my mind space for a few days afterwards, and it was during this mental preoccupation that I unintentionally developed a theory about an additional way to view the plotline of the movie.
[To be continued]