I love Joker, and if you haven’t seen it, then please do so, especially before reading this blog post, because I will be spoiling the end of the film in the fourth paragraph, so don’t even think of looking at the fourth paragraph if you haven’t seen the movie yet. And yes, I believe a single word can be a single paragraph.
Anyway, I love Joker.
Joaquin Phoenix is perfectly cast, the movie flows well from one scene to the next, and it’s simply well-written from beginning to end.
The ending plays out as if the writers took their eyes off the ball. After fleeing the scene of a crime, Joker is involved in a car crash that knocks him unconscious. We then pan over to a scene in which Bruce Wayne’s parents are murdered, which is yet again telling the Batman origin story. I believe the writers were thinking that Batman and Joker being created at the same time would be like destiny forever tying them together.
However, I think it’s completely unnecessary, especially since this is a Joker movie, not a Batman movie. I prefer the idea that these two characters are simply two insane people who eventually cross paths with each other and become locked in an eternal dance of death, so to speak. I like the idea that Joker and Batman come from different places and are created at different times in unrelated ways yet have so much in common and so many ways in which they can relate to each other. To me, that’s far more of an interesting concept with much more to explore, rather than Joker causing the exact chaos that made him responsible, however indirectly, for the creation of Batman.
So, after this Batman origin story, we cut back to Joker who lets out a cough and opens his eyes to the chaos he has caused and stands as he finds that he has finally found a way to relieve all his stress and anxiety; he is now the man he has wanted to be, in a reality he has made for himself. And this is where the movie should have ended: right here, with Joker, in full make-up, dancing and celebrating his personal victory.
Instead, after fading to black, the movie cuts to another scene in which Arthur Fleck, without the make-up, is in lock-up, talking to a psychiatrist. We’re then shown him leaving the room, bloody footprints in his wake to show that he killed the psychiatrist. He then runs back and forth as he’s chased down by staff. Although this scene has a dark comedy vibe to it, I feel that it robs the film of its overall point, which is the journey of Arthur Fleck from someone who can’t find a place in society to someone who creates a society that has a place for him.
If ending the film at the scene of Joker’s victory, we get the completion of that journey from Arthur Fleck to Joker. We’re shown a man who finally finds what makes him happy, as horrible as what makes him happy turns out to be. We know there will be consequences to his actions, but for now, Joker, in full make-up, can live and dance and glow in the fiery chaos and just be himself. And as sick as it looks to the rest of us, that is his version of freedom, and as this is within the confines of a fictional story, it’s something we can smile about. 🙂