Which scenes in Joker are real? I get that the movie deliberately hides which scenes are real and which are part of Arthur's imagination, (i.e, the relationship with Sophie) but based on the director's interviews and the script, which of the ambiguous scenes can we confirm to be fake or real?
In several interviews when asked both Joaquin Phoenix and Todd Phillips have stated that this aspect of the film is entirely up to the audience to decide.
In fact I am pretty sure (looking for the specific reference) that both the actor and director have different ideas between themselves about what is and isn't real and Todd Phillips has said he very much gave Joaquin the freedom to decide it all himself. For this reason both have refused to give specific answers to this question. Below are some excerpts from one of the many interviews that where given.
“This movie requires a certain amount of participation from the audience,” Phoenix told The Times recently. “It’s up to you how you want to interpret it and experience it. It’s less you being kind of presented with the facts than you being presented with these possibilities.”
“There’s a lot of ways you could look at this movie,” Phillips said. “You could look at it and go, ‘This is just one of his multiple-choice stories. None of it happened.’ I don’t want to say what it is. But a lot of people I’ve shown it to have said, ‘Oh, I get it — he’s just made up a story. The whole movie is the joke. It’s this thing this guy in Arkham Asylum concocted. He might not even be the Joker.’ ”
“Me and Scott and Joaquin, we never talked about what he has — I never wanted to say, ‘He’s a narcissist and this and that,’ ” Phillips said. “I didn’t want Joaquin as an actor to start researching that kind of thing. We just said, ‘He’s off.’ I don’t even know that he’s mentally ill. He’s just left-footed with the world.”
This may be frustrating to those who want a definitive answer but the fact is that in this case no one view is wrong or right. It might all be made up in Arthur Fleck's head, Joker may not even be the Joker and might just be some guy imagining he is a super villain that the press are talking about.