Thanks must go to Keith, who posted his theories regarding the end of the film, and I am essentially expanding on the idea while kinda going in my own direction. Of course everything here is 100% subjective.

Spoilers are obviously on the way, however, if you have seen the film, you must check out Keith’s review and his thoughts on the ending also.

I’ll try to disregard the ending for the most part so I’m not repeating Keith’s post.

The first interesting nugget I noticed was the very first scene before the title. Arthur is literally trying to force his mouth into a frown, then a smile which he obviously isn’t satisfied with as he proceeds to pull his mouth so far into a smile that a single tear rolls down his cheek and over his make up. Then he stops, looking into the mirror looking unsatisfied with his effort.


Sure, it could be a tear of emotional pain, physical pain from his attempt at a big grin, but the fact that such extreme gestures elicit only a single tear perhaps suggest that Arthur is unable to feel happiness or sadness: traits of a budding sociopath. The fact that he is looking in a mirror could be positing that he doesn’t understand the feelings of not only himself but any other person he sees, another trait of a sociopath.

Interestingly, this opening scene, given it it is the only scene that takes place before the title appears, could chronologically fit anywhere within the film. The only clues are his delusional attempts to smile or frown, as if he truly wants to feel emotion like most people. But his confusion around this matter is a near constant anyway, but it surely doesn’t chronologically take place at the start of the movie.

The constant sh*t that rains on him is literally laughed away, where most people suffering like this would be bed ridden, or dead, Arthur never seems to feel any strong emotion, nonchalantly shooting his third victim with no empathy or emotion to be found at all, as he simply walks briskly up to the man and pulls the trigger until it clicks twice. 

When he shoots Murray, you could say he was bitter about being called a ‘joker’, but he never seems angry or upset. Before the shooting, when he confesses to killing the three men, his emotionless but proud smile barely changes. After shooting Murray, he again sits in his chair smiling – for a moment he is ignorant to what he has done. His reactions are the opposite of what would be appropriate or expected, but even these never seem quite real. 

His laugh, that pained, cruel laugh that sounds as if he is gasping for air, seems to be a coping mechanism for the fact that he doesn’t know how to express these emotions. For example, the scene where his boss delivers some bad news, one of many effective close-ups of Phoenix, we see a grin slowly forming on his face as what his boss is saying becomes tuned out and muted. 


As for his devolving mental state, the film proves that he was delusional far earlier than depicted, as he hallucinates positive interactions with the woman next door to him, clearly suggesting that he was already very sick and detached from reality from the beginning of the movie. Hell, was his mother even alive? Did he really approach a young Bruce Wayne? The more I think about it, the more this seems unlikely, as this would means Wayne is at least 30 years younger than Arthur/Joker, which doesn’t add up at all. Maybe everything here relating to his mother never actually occurs in the way we see it.

If all those interactions were all in his head, what else was? It is curious that the only delusion we actually see is early on when Arthur is watching Murray on TV and suddenly sees himself in the audience. After this sequence, we don’t see anything but the incredible performance from Phoenix, especially his body language and facial expressions that expertly hint at what could being going inside that noggin, while being subtle enough that it is open to discussion.

To be continued…




  1. Enjoyed reading your take, I missed the single tear when he pulls his face into a smile. Agree he was delusional early on in the film when he watches TV. The dance scene on the steps could be in his head too because of the disappearing and re-disappearing cigarette!
    To me, the ending with Murray is partly about the dark side of talent shows. Murray has exploited and humilated Arthur, making viral clips followed by tough-in-cheek comments. Arthur initially buys into the fame and is deluded into thinking he’s important (like people on X Factor etc have their 15 min of fame) but in reality they are being used, and that pisses him off. Sure Arthur does terrible things, but his frustration about being made fun of the viewer can understand. Being “noticed” is such a big thing in society and when you’re unloved and people push you away(Thomas Wayne/his employer/etc sometimes it can turn ugly. I think he loses it because of not taking medication and losing structure in his live, the film is a commentary on health care cuts. Not only that, Arthur is possibily inspired to continue the violence by looking at a newspaper stand with the joker face with sharp teeth which he mimicks and eggs him on. A knock on media coverage giving free publicity to criminals. The film to me is saying sociey/politics is the villain, not just Arthur. There are many reasons why he is frustrated.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A very interesting take good sir. I personally missed that newspaper headline, but I have a different theory on what changed him into a violent psychopath rather than a relatively harmless one, such as myself, I’ve been in that position; of delusion many times, as I mention in part 2. I wouldn’t recommend it. But I hope that my thoughts help you dive into his mind a little more seeing I experienced severe delusion, luckily though no violence occurred. Well, physically at least.. =/

      Nice take on the 15 minutes of fame angle. So so true/.

      Look out for part 2 which will go live in a few hours. That stair dance is mentioned too, think how HARD that would have been, dancing and hip-thrusting while going down a long flight of stairs!!! Yknow those stairs have now turned into a fan site of sorts? I’m not sure of the details but google it.

      You should also google the army getting involved with the apparent danger of this movie. Not heavily involved, but still, just reading they were involved in ANY way is fucking retarded.

      And its over a month since a month now since release. Aaaaand surprise surprise, all that paranoia was for nothing.

      Sorry for the rant, this is another topic I need to write a post about – over-the-top PC bullcrap, neo-feminism creating movies with an ‘all girl’ gimmick that isn’t sexist at all because apparently sexism only goes one way (Hustlers, The Kitchen, Oceans 8… I get why itrs happening but its so over the top!!!

      I also am writing a post on staggered release dates and how they relate to piracy too. Interested to hear your thoughts on that too. It is much less rant-like hehe. BTW, that makes me curious, where do you hail from? Do you have to suffer through these staggered releases too?

      Liked by 1 person

      • The newspaper stand with the joker face with sharp teeth is in the teaser at the 1.29 mark:

        Sorry to hear about your own struggles, and I’m glad your own delusion did not lead to violence.

        Calling in the army seems excessive for a movie but there was a disturbing incident where a teen Gleb Korabljov committed suicide after watching Joker. There’s even footage of it online which I dare not look at. I don’t know the full facts, probably the movie is not the only reason he killed himself.

        We have delayed release dates too, I’m used to it. We are lucky in Denmark to have a free library streaming service where I can watch arthouse films about 6-12 months after the cinema release.

        Yes, I heard the stairs are now a fan site!

        Just read your part 2

        Liked by 1 person

      • See, I understand that a movie like this could be a -trigger- for someone as unwell as these people. But if something like this can trigger them, why not countless other films? Why don’t we ban Taxi Driver from shelves from now on? What if they watch an advert and take it the wrong way?? And I’m not trying to be funny, I’ve seen that happen!

        What I’m not saying very well is, if this movie triggers a violent act, then that violent act was simply waiting to happen. Emotionally stable sane people don’t go watch a movie and walk out deciding they’ll go be like Joker…. only those who are very sick. And their obsession with firearms and often nihilism as I touched on in my last post keeps them sick essential;ly, and with such easy access to firearms, how can anyone be surprised this is happening?? No offence meant to Americans, but it isn’t like this stuff is happening anywhere else. I’m ranting, sorry.

        Though I’m sure that when the next shooting is reported, the media will do its absolute hardest to spin it in a negative light, trying to connect it to the movie.

        Buts what gets me is that the stats are so insane right, over 2,000 school shootings. that honestly… how can a movie make a difference in a country that has had over 2,000 mass shootings in the last decade??!

        That is the question I always come back to, and I always think this hysteria is absurd, In a years time, I wonder if anyone will even remember it.

        That is a clever thing to do in Denmark. I wish I had something like that. Pain and Glory now had English subs but its a brand new movie. I wish I had money, I don’t feel all that super when downloading movies

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Really good stuff and thanks for the link. It still amazes me how much this movie makes you think. A literal blanket reading is sure to be unsatisfying. But once you look at its many layers…whew!




  5. Great continuation 🙂 Arthur’s bout with mental illness plays a significant role here and (though it may be unrelated to your post) Joaquin Phoenix feels like the true auteur of Joker (as opposed to Todd Phillips). In fact, I really think that Phoenix should have directed this film because he seems to connect to not only his performance, but the drama that shapes it. I know Phoenix has never directed before, but I would not be surprised If he improvised some stuff here. Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Great points! Phoenix directing is interesting to think about cos I totally agree, he totally ad-libbed some parts and of course came up with how that laugh sounds. I’d love to see him write a screenplay or something, cos some of the movies he has been in have been incredibly written, this one included. He certainly has had appropriate experience for the job.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: JOKER [2019] – FINAL THOUGHTS | 500 CRAPPY WORDS A DAY

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