We certainly haven't seen Gotham like this before.
So, what did you think?
Let's cast our minds back... an origin-story exploring how a man became the villainous Joker. "Nah, I'll pass thanks," is what most people said when it was announced. One of the most universally respected performances of the current century is Heath Ledger's portrayal of Batman's arch-nemesis in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight, so this didn't seem so appealing
Nolan's film was released in 2008 and comic-book movie fans still hold it up as featuring the greatest depiction of the deranged character. Admittedly, when people got wind that Joaquin Phoenix was donning the make-up for the role, expectations raised a little. He's amazed us in the likes of Walk the Line, You Were Never Really Here and The Master, but the director also dropped expectations. Todd Phillips - the man behind The Hangover trilogy - seemed an odd choice, but he really knocked this one out of the park.
Joker practically transcends the sub-genre, offering fans a character study so deeply uncomfortable that it becomes hard to watch at times; just try taking your eyes off it though...
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Joker: Twitter reacts to the Fridge scene
There are so many memorable scenes throughout the narrative, and that's because Joaquin's Arthur Fleck is essentially on-screen for its entirety.
His performance is mesmerising, and his weight-loss for the role remains staggering, to say the least. The actor disappears into the character, much like Heath did, but these are two very different takes. Joaquin conveys such fragility, and one of the scenes which best captures that is the fridge scene.
After being relentlessly beaten down by his surroundings both physically and mentally, Arthur returns home, takes all of the food and shelving out of the fridge and contorts his body to climb inside, closing the door and shutting himself off from the world. We then cut to him on the bed, further enforcing his fractured headspace and even to suggest that he's losing track of time completely.
It's a powerful scene, and audiences on Twitter have been quick to single it out. One wrote: "Can't stop thinking about that scene where the Joker gets inside a fridge," while another added: "When Joker took everything out of the fridge to sit inside it... I felt that."
With a different take, one fan suggested: "When you go watch joker just remember, he was in the fridge the entire time;" we love those weird little theories. However, most people have asked why it is that he went inside the fridge, so let's talk about it, shall we!
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What does it mean?
The scene can be read in a number of ways.
Most obviously, it communicates to the audience just how important escape has become for Arthur. He wants to shut himself away from the world completely, and the fridge provides a quick and easy way to do just that, but only temporarily.
Then there's a more metaphorical reading of the decision. Gotham is presented to us as a cold place, in which whatever the character does he's punished for. The fridge can be understood as a representation of Gotham itself; it's cold, cramped, uncomfortable and suffocating. The character feels like he can no longer breathe, which is reinforced his consistent laughing which often appears to choke him.
However, our favourite way to read the scene is that it's a form of rebirth. The fridge can be seen as a womb of sorts, with Arthur climbing inside taking the fetal position and emerging anew as Joker. This also reinforces the idea that he's a product of his environment - cold and dark.
Another would be that it's a suicidal fantasy, which would explain why it quickly cuts to him lying on the bed. In the first act of the film, we see Arthur's fantasy of meeting Murray play out on the screen, and perhaps this is just another case of that. Others have been quick to point out that he'd have been unable to get out once he climbed inside, so it's certainly plausible. Nevertheless, it works brilliantly as a metaphor for being born again.
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A deeply uncomfortable experience
The scene can also extend to the audience. Joker is such a sad and disturbing experience that it may make your blood run cold with every twist and turn it takes.
In certain moments audiences may very well go cold, shocked by what they're seeing. It's so refreshing to see something like this in a multiplex, and while concerns over the film's themes are justified, it's confrontational in a way that many great American movies are. One of the biggest influences on the project is clearly Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver, which was deeply unsettling when it was released in the seventies, yet it's stood the test of time, heralded as a masterpiece but just as problematic, letting the audience debate and dissect Travis.
We suspect the discourse surrounding Joker is only just beginning, and arguably it's destined to be considered a classic in the way that many controversial films have been in the past. The bottom line is that we all need to take better care of each other.
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