A lonely man on the verge of breaking is the perfect mainstream recipe for some high intensity Drama. And who better than Joaquin Phoenix to essay the sympathetic role of a villain who has managed to garner more fascination than the heroes! From Gladiator(2000) to The Master(2012) to Her(2013), Joaquin is established as the ultimate modern lonely man onscreen. We know The Joker as someone who was pushed off the edge, and Joaquin has always been both of it- vulnerable on the edge, and exploding off it every now and then. The actor has stated that he felt this film to be more like a low-budget indie than a bigger, comic-world movie, and the trailer has all the looks of it. There are shades of a more euphoric, more effusive, more insane Taxi Driver(1976) in the beautiful teaser trailer that looks like a fully grown film in itself. No wonder its rhythms has got people hooked into it for multiple rewatches.
The start of the trailer is dormant and foreboding, showing an edgy Arthur Fleck trying to keep up his sanity in a declining society. We see the dormancy, the depression in how he drags himself up the stone steps.
And we sense the foreboding dread in the stooped gait, the pathetic physique and the characteristic vulnerable Joaquin face, and we sense it in this shot, where Arthur literally seems to be drawing stored up rage from within his body-
And like all the best dramatic pieces do in how they surprise us, at this point in the trailer, the perfect touch comes up- we expect it to explode into Arthur’s fury, but it exploded instead into a sermon of happiness in the face of the song Smile by Nat King Cole. The lyrics match up with Arthur’s own philosophy of keeping up a happy face. But that sermon, that insistence on happiness has a recipe for disaster of its own, as we do come to see when Arthur seems to unhinge into forcing happiness onto himself in these shots-
Not long before he’s pushed off the edge into a state of mind where personal happiness becomes the only option, indifferent to the uncontrollable chaos and pain that his mind seems to have faced.
With a flicker of the light, and a spitting cackle by Arthur, the song blows into an instrumental ascent.
Mind you, the music is still far from rage or fury, it is an expression of euphoria. And boy does this trailer love its tunnel and hallway shots, like it were tracing the different stages of Arthur’s mindscape!
Seemed to be broken of all worries, Arthur initiates his revelry in solitude, dancing his dance of euphoria, and you can literally see him switching feet from the character of Arthur to the Joker in this shot-
The euphoric music keeps ascending, as the world around Arthur panics and chases behind him-
As Arthur maintains and music affirms, he is all about an insistence on happiness, notice how there is not one shot of any violence or social disturbance by Arthur in the teaser, even as a minister speaks about a “cold-blooded” action, pointing at the difference between the perception of Arthur’s euphoric mind and the world around him-
Another hallway shot follows with Arthur promenading through it with confidence-
And the Arthur Fleck who was walking up the stone steps numb in the beginning of the trailer, is now standing in the middle of the steps, dancing, tapping his feet, delicately poised between insanity and liberation, in perfect- and dangerous- harmony between himself and the world- the stone steps are exactly a symbol of which relationship.
All he wants is to spread happiness, this October!!