Todd Phillips’s Joker has to be one of the most out-of-the-world experiences while watching a movie about a comic book character. The character isn’t ordinary either considering Joker is in many ways the best villain the DC comics have offered us. The visuals of the cinema gave us one of the unique experiences of exploring Joker in a real-world environment. But one of the most beautiful parts of the movie was Joaquin Phoenix’s performance in the titular character. Let’s look at the top 10 reasons why Joaquin Phoenix’s performance as Joker is a unique character execution.
Why Joker is a Unique Character
The Different Laughs
The laughter played an essential part in the personality of Joker and a lot of effort was put into making it absolutely worth it. Todd Phillips showed Phoenix a lot of videos of people suffering from uncontrollable pathological laughter in order to give it authenticity. But an essential part that may have been overlooked was the four different types of laughs. The first one is the kind that comes out when he is faced with adversity or social embarrassment. The other one is the one that appears right around the end of the movie. Another laugh is that of genuine joy when he imagines himself to be appearing at Murray Franklin’s show. Lastly, he tries to do a fake laugh that is supposed to be a performance to grab his audience.
The Childish Persona
The character of Joker is very broken and comes from a place of having faced childhood trauma. His entire life was taken away from him as he became Penny’s carer because he had to invest entirely in her. The remnants of his childhood remain still in him as imagines himself being at the show with such intrigue. His entire behavior is that of a child that has had a dream come true. His dream world is made of him looking around in absolute wonderment as his wildest dreams appear to be coming true.
The Limp and The Bow
The very opening of the movie shows him in a broken condition. This is because he is beaten by the street kids who steal his sign. This makes him limp due to the injury and he continues to do so throughout most of the movie. His walks and his stance become an essential part of his character as it appears to be a compilation of his past abuse. A massive transition is seen as he drops this walk and stance when he becomes more driven around the end of the movie.
The Absence Of A Breath
There are two scenes in the movie where he holds his breath while giving a bold performance. He is told by his social worker that he is about to lose his medication and support. This makes him smile as a response because his mother had told him about “putting on a happy face”. While laughing he holds his breath and it looks absolutely as if he is having an episode. A similar thing happens when he is killing his mother while suffocating her. He holds his breath until he finishes doing so.
Fantasy vs. Reality
One of the most essential parts of the movie was the idea of an unreliable narrator. The primary narrator who is navigating the story ahead had delusions of grandeur at times. He ends up thinking of doing some things and appears to be convinced that he has done them. The surprise is that we are as shocked as him upon realizing that things didn’t actually turn out to be the way we showed them to be. Added to this is the transition in his appearance throughout the movie. There are slight changes in his makeup that make a considerable impact on our memory.
The Joker often mocks people around him by trying to mimic the people around him. This is a very dark response as this is also his judgment about the people that surround him. It’s a means of his art of doing stand up wherein he studies people and points out certain behavioral patterns. He even makes notes regarding the guests who appear in Franklin Murray’s show so as to be a special guest if he ends up appearing in the show.
Choice Of Colours
The costume of Joker that we get to see in the movie is actually a rendition of the original costume from the movies. There are hints and nods to the comic book appearance of Joker in his costume for the movie. The idea of where he got the hint for the costume in the movie is an entirely different detail. The reason behind this being there is a specific scene in the movie where he tries to steal his mother’s records at Arkham. Here for a particular moment, he is at a staircase where he first discovers the truth about his mother. The walls in this place are painted in the same way as his waistcoat and floor and pipework resemble the same maroon as his suit.
Throughout the movie, Arthur has a weird posture and he appears to be very twisted. He appears to be hunched with his shoulders curled inwards and a curved spine as a result. The choice for his tight straitjacket is a response to this only. He wears it so as to constrict his body by pulling his shoulders across and bending his back as if too tight.
The Larger Appearance
Whenever Arthur feels like doing a momentary celebration he does so by appearing to be more manly than he is. He does this as a ritual in order to calm and prepare himself. The postures he goes for while dancing makes him appear larger than he is. This is the idea of him being more menacing than usual as if he is an animal. When it is revealed that his conversation with Sophie was a figment of his imagination we end up realizing that the camera starts shooting him from below.
Joker seems to smoke a lot in the movie. There is a specific moment right around the end where we see his hand stained with the orange of the nicotine. This doesn’t appear to be an ordinary addiction. It often seems as though smoking is his means of connecting to the real world. He does that just in order to find out whether his experiences are real or not.
So now you all know how Phoenix’s Joker is a unique character!