The ambiguous final scene of Joker that left many viewers confused might have just been cleared up.
In Todd Phillips’ film, which is expected to reach the $1b mark at the box office, the closing moments see central character Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) speaking to a nurse having been committed to fictional psychiatric hospital, Arkham Asylum.
Due to the way the scene bears similarities with Fleck’s own thoughts about his mother being in the same institution earlier on in the film, many walked out of the cinema believing that the events they’d just seen didn’t actually happen, and that Fleck imagined the whole thing from his cell.
The film's screenplay, which was written by Phillips, may provide some clarification for those who were left scratching their heads.
“He’s sitting across from an overworked HOSPITAL DOCTOR (Fifties), African-American woman,” it reads. “Somehow, it’s the exact same room Joker imagined his mother was in some 30 years ago. The room and the doctor also look vaguely similar to the social worker and her office in the opening scene.”
Now, importantly, the script doesn’t highlight that Fleck is dreaming, which is leading some to believe it must have all been real. The fact that Phillips is highlighting the similarities to earlier scenes, though, is interesting as it emphasises the most dreamlike aspects of the closing scene.
Taking away from the theory that Fleck imagined the whole thing is the big reveal midway through the film that his relationship with neighbour Sophie (Zazie Beetz) was imagined. Why would the film go out of its way to show this is if the whole thing was in Fleck’s head?
Phillips recently published a series of behind-the-scenes photos taken while working on Joker, which show an apparent reference to Catwoman, another DC Comics character.
Phoenix, meanwhile, has suggested that he would be willing to appear in a Joker sequel.
Joker is in cinemas now.