Movie Marathon #11: The Dark Knight

by thethreepennyguignol

Well, it’s come to this: another thoughtless rehashing of the final role of the hugely lamented Heath Ledger. Appearing here in what is essentially the definitive representation of The Joker (save for maybe Mark Hamill’s work on Batman: The Animated Series), Ledger did himself spectacularly proud with his swan song. A deranged, unhinged, terrifying performance in which Heath inhabits the role of this psychotic villain, it rightly garnered an Oscar win and gallons of critical praise, acting as a tragic marker for just how far this exceptional actor could have gone.

But. I watched the second installment in the Nolan’s trilogy recently, and it struck me how questionable the film is a whole. I’m not one of those Christian Bale haters who seem to loath the very talented actor on principal; I think he makes a grand old Batman, as well as being a swoonsomely suave Bruce Wayne. And he brings a bit of subtle humour to the role, a hint of tongue in cheek wit that elevates this Batman tenfold. Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Aaron Eckhart also do solidly well, prancing around in the B-stories of the movie’s outskirts with glee (even though they talk almost entirely in exposition). I also developed a powerful crush on Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon in this segment, but that’s neither here nor there.

But this film is always going to be overshadowed the fact that it features the final, almost portentous performance from one of the best actors I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. A powerhouse, hypnotic role that almost feels unfair in how good it is; it’s not right that we lost Heath Ledger as he was cresting the wave of what promised to be a fantastic career. This film, however entertaining and absorbing it might be, will forever stand as a morbid momento of what might have been.

Also, do you think Heath ever brought up the fact he filmed a gay sex scene with Maggie Gyllenhaal’s brother? I sincerely, truly hope so. For Heath’s sake.