Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"Why So Serious?"

Suddenly, the Joker's tagline from the next Batman film takes on an eerie, otherwordly, even spectral quality . . .

... like Heath himself, his ghost haunting our world. Is he looking back from beyond the grave, with wonder--maybe even hope (or just derision)--assessing and confronting the grief he's left behind?

"Why so serious?"

* * *

No doubt, he was a tremendous talent. He very well should have won Best Actor for Brokeback (apologies to a well-deserved Philip Seymour Hoffman)--it was a masterpiece of underacting. People often reference the film's final moments, or his scene with Jake Gyllenhaal by the campfire, but the scene that gets me the most is when he rebuffs Linda Cardellini in the diner late in the film, but can't even find the words:

I don't get you, Ennis del Mar.

I'm sorry. [. . .] Was probably no fun anyway, was I?
Ennis, girls don't fall in love with fun.



Scott Balcerzak said...

It is odd. In my memories of the Brokeback performance on Mabuse, I found myself using the same word - "devastating."
It is an interesting word, especially since, as you point out, it is such an understated performance. It is odd how what can 'devastate' us can be in the smallest of moments.
And now, our running across the Joker's truck last summer in Chicago is a bittersweet memory. And now, how the significance of that small offscreen moment has changed.

dave_mcavoy said...

I dunno. I have huge problems with Brokeback Mountain as a film, and I've always found it hard to rate performances in films I don't like. It's weird, though, because the press surrounding his death seems to be jumping on two bandwagons, either the image of the solemn, contemplative actor, or as the hard-partying heavy drug user.

At the risk of jumping on the horribly eploitative second bandwagon, I've been remembering him for the past few days as Patrick/Petrucchio in Ten Things I Hate about You, which I watched again recently for my exams and in which Ledger gives a brilliant performance. Charismatic, charming, smarmy, wonderfully sadistic, over the top, but not off the deep end. All things that I admire in an actor, and all things that I think we'll see again in The Dark Knight.

Sad to see him go. But I do think that he has the potential to become this generation's James Dean, which might come as some consolation.