"Why So...Serious?"

Yesterday, I'd decided to indulge myself with a matinée of The Dark Knight at our local fancy pants art house cinema (does it still qualify as "art house" even if it's in a strip mall? Very nice, dressed up and glorified, but a strip mall nonetheless).

To make it the perfect movie-going experience, I even searched high and low--literally stopping at four different retailers--before finding Hot Tamales to go with my buttered popcorn. It's as close to caramel corn as you'll find without actually making it yourself.

After breezing through the ticket-taking area (no usher on duty?! My younger self would have staked this place out for the purpose of catching the occasional freebie), I settled into an uber-comfy seat and settled in for what would reveal itself to be two and a half hours of unsettling film.

  • I've always loved the dark, brooding Batman, and Christian Bale takes another fantastic turn in the rubber suit.
  • Aaron Echkart's chin of justice juts dramatically as Harvey Dent takes the path of righteousness...and then gets thrown off the cliff.
  • Maggie Gyllenhaaaaaaalllaalalal is a more satisfying love interest/female place holder than Mrs. Tom Cruise was, but not by much.
But as everyone has said before me and better, this movie belonged to Heath Ledger's Joker. Costume and makeup aside, his voice and mannerisms took you out of the "this guy did Brokeback Mountain/Knight's Tale/10 Things I Hate About You" (all three movies which I enjoyed for various reasons) mindset, making you completely forget about the actor as you were so engrossed with the character (much like Charlize Theron's role in Monster), sucking you into the story entirely.

The Joker in this film is crazy like a fox--a psychopathic, homicidal, nihilistic fox. He's not driven by greed or lust or fame, just a pure, focused desire to watch the world eat itself. While he appears completely unhinged, he more than manages to be at least two steps ahead of the good guys, manipulating them again and again into increasingly deranged situations and "social experiments."

And that was what I took away from the movie, a feeling of total exhaustion, for the one word I came up with to describe the film is relentless. It just. Doesn't. Stop. And while action scene after action scene might leave a completely engaged viewer somewhat breathless, it was the aggressively sinister underpinning of each episode that just ground me down somewhat.

We are used to seeing the bad guys getting blown up by the good guys and innocents threatened but ultimately saved in most mainstream movies, but in this one, the bad guys are forced to turn on each other while the innocents are literally dangled over the precipice or shorn sheep dressed in wolves's clothing, as the wolves themselves walk invisibly among the flock.

Now, I love me a dark movie. Twisted and warped and morbid are all good qualities in my book. But there has to be some respite, some moment where the viewer can take a breath and regroup. There wasn't a whole lot of that in The Dark Knight. I guess I should have known--it's pretty much all right there in the title.

So, the obvious question is, would I see it again? Most definitely.

I mean, have you seen Christian Bale? The man is not ugly.

1 comment:

eileen said...

Yes, it's definitely a relentless movie. I liked it as well, but didn't leave the theater feeling happy.

Maggie G. was sort of a dud in this, wasn't she?

Oh, and I think Joker in nurse outfit would make an excellent Halloween costume.