Critics’ Review Joker: A Film That Invites Us to Love the Monster

Todd Philips’ Joker will hit the theatres on 4 October.

Published02 Sep 2019, 12:35 PM IST
3 min read

Directed by Todd Phillips, Joker received glowing reviews after it was screened recently at the Venice Film Festival. Joaquin Phoenix was lauded for his spectacular performance. Joker recounts the transformation of the loner Arthur Fleck to the criminal mastermind. The film hits the theatres on 4 October.

Take a look at what the critics have to say:

“Joaquin Phoenix provides a comic-book hero for the left behind with Joker, a brilliantly insurrectionist origins story that landed like a firecracker in the midst of this year’s Venice film festival. Playing the role of Cain to the sunny Abel of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Todd Phillips’s blockbuster charts the formative years of Batman’s nemesis, rewinding to his time as a failed standup in grubby Gotham City, when he was lonesome and lost and out of joint with the world. Audaciously, it’s a film that invites us to love the monster.”
Xan Brooks, The Guardian
“Many have asked, and with good reason: Do we need another Joker movie? Yet what we do need — badly — are comic-book films that have a verité gravitas, that unfold in the real world, so that there’s something more dramatic at stake than whether the film in question is going to rack up a billion-and-a-half dollars worldwide. Joker manages the nimble feat of telling the Joker’s origin story as if it were unprecedented. We feel a tingle when Bruce Wayne comes into the picture; he’s there less as a force than an omen. And we feel a deeply deranged thrill when Arthur, having come out the other side of his rage, emerges wearing smeary make-up, green hair, an orange vest and a rust-colored suit.”
Owen Gleiberman, Variety
“Todd Philip’s Joker is unquestionably the boldest reinvention of “superhero” cinema since The Dark Knight; a true original that’s sure to be remembered as one of the most transgressive studio blockbusters of the 21st Century. It’s also a toxic rallying cry for self-pitying incels, and a hyper-familiar origin story so indebted to Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy that Martin Scorsese probably deserves an executive producer credit. It’s possessed by the kind of provocative spirit that’s seldom found in any sort of mainstream entertainment, but also directed by a glorified edgelord who lacks the discipline or nuance to responsibly handle such hazardous material, and who reliably takes the coward’s way out of the narrative’s most critical moments.”
David Ehrlich, IndieWire
“The movie is, for a good stretch, a troubling and arresting character study, one done with nervy conviction. Eventually, though, Phillips has to more tightly attach this downward spiral to the larger Gotham mythology, which is where the provocative ambivalence of the film gives way to veneration. The climax is a gnarly triumph for the man who has now turned into the Joker, a baptism of blood and fire which brings to mind the political protests that have swept the world this decade, and the far more discrete, unknowable incident of Christine Chubbuck’s death. (There’s some Bernie Kerik in there, too.)”
Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair
“This isn’t Jack Nicholson’s Joker, a ham in a purple suit, cackling with psychotic glee. This isn’t Heath Ledger’s Joker, with his tubercular rasp and a scarred smile that rivalled a scarred soul. This is Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker, and like his predecessors, the actor gives a hugely external (and very entertaining) performance. Sometimes, he swishes about like the most flamboyant gay man. Sometimes, he affects the graceful rhythms of a soft-shoe dancer. Sometimes, you feel you are getting variations on Marlon Brando’s miniature moments — say, stroking Eva Marie Saint’s glove and slipping it on his hand, in On The Waterfront. But there’s something internal, too. If Jack Nicholson went after campy flamboyance and Heath Ledger reached for mythical resonance, Phoenix’s interpretation of the character is attuned to psychological realism.”
Baradwaj Rangan, Film Companion

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