joker folie a deux

‘Joker: Folie à Deux’ trailer depicts a haunting duet between Joaquin Phoenix and Lady Gaga

Smile, though your heart is aching…

The curtains have been pulled back as Warner Bros. released the eagerly awaited first trailer for Joker: Folie à Deux at Cinemacon yesterday, showcasing Joaquin Phoenix’s mesmerizing return as Arthur Fleck alongside Lady Gaga’s debut as the enigmatic Harley Quinn. The sequel, directed by Todd Phillips, teases a chilling journey into musical madness, redefining the origins and entanglement of these two twisted lovers.

Set against the grim backdrop of Arkham Asylum, the trailer opens with a haunting voiceover by Phoenix: “We use music to make us whole, to balance the fractures within ourselves.” This cryptic message sets the tone for a sequel that delves deeper into the psychological complexities of its lead, Arthur, who remains under intense scrutiny following the events of the 2019 blockbuster.

The trailer intertwines reality with fantasy, showing moments of Arthur and Harley in a fantastical dance on a rooftop, contrasted sharply with harsher visuals of Arthur in a police car and Harley, in full costume, climbing the steps of a courthouse. It suggests a narrative filled with both romantic delusions and grim realities.

Lady Gaga’s portrayal of Harley Quinn appears to differ from her typical origin story, introducing her not as the psychiatrist Dr. Harleen Quinzel but as a fellow patient in the asylum. Her interactions with Phoenix’s Joker hint at a deeply dysfunctional yet poignantly intimate relationship, wrapped in the cinematic language of a musical—albeit not a traditional one, as Phillips pointed out, but one where “music is an essential element.”

The final shot of the trailer is perhaps the most poignant visual that stays with the viewer. As Arthur Fleck sits somberly on one side of the glass, Harley Quinn, on the opposite side, traces a vibrant red smile onto the surface with her lipstick. The camera cleverly aligns this artificial grin with Arthur’s melancholic face as he slowly conforms his expression to match the drawn smile, creating a chilling echo of happiness that isn’t truly felt. This eerie and symbolic moment not only intensifies their twisted connection but also visually nods to one of the iconic posters from The Dark Knight, where the Joker is depicted with a blood-drawn smile on glass.

The term “Folie à Deux,” which translates to a shared psychosis, suggests that Phoenix and Gaga’s characters will explore their madness together in a narrative that promises to blur the lines between reality and illusion.

Joker: Folie à Deux releases in theaters on October 4, 2024