Review Round Up: Joker

We round up the reviews for Todd Phillips’s film with Joaquin Phoenix taking on the title role.

Observer: **** “What he does have is an eye for a well-chosen location, an ear for a provocative line of dialogue and a finger on the pulse of very marketable, confrontational (if also “cynical”) entertainment. Add to this an incendiary central performance by Phoenix and Joker looks set to have the last laugh.”

Empire: ***** “As Arthur/Joker, Joaquin Phoenix is astonishing. Phillips has said he had a picture of the actor above his screen when writing the script and it’s a belief that has paid off. Phoenix inhabits Arthur: having lost weight for the role, he looks thin, frail, hungry. Shadows carve out his exposed bones. His physicality is precise — the way he moves, shuffles, runs, sits, smokes, shrinks.” ** “But besides the wacky pleasures of Phoenix’s performance, it also displays some major movie studio core competencies, in a not dissimilar way to what “A Star Is Born” presented last year.”

The Independent: **** “Phoenix’s Joker is a heavier, more brooding and introspective figure than that of Heath Ledger in Nolan’s The Dark Knight. He doesn’t have Ledger’s quicksilver energy. He moves more slowly. However, when his malevolence is finally unleashed, he is just as effective a lord of chaos.” **** “Phoenix plays Arthur’s tragic descent in a way which seemingly encourages our empathy but makes sure he never really gets it: we know he’s not a character to whom you’d want to get too close. There is a maniacal darkness behind his eyes which is a bit creepy.”

The Telegraph: **** “A part of me found Todd Phillips’s radical rethinking of the Batman villain Joker thrillingly uncompromising and hair-raisingly timely. Another thinks it should be locked in a strongbox then dropped in the ocean and never released.”

The Guardian: ** “Todd Phillips’ solemn but shallow supervillain origins movie has a strong performance by Joaquin Phoenix but is weighed down by realist detail and tedious material.”

Vulture: “Although Phillips and the screenwriters sought to make Joker more realistic than its DC Comics predecessors, it exalts its protagonist and gives him the origin story of his dreams, in which killing is a just — and artful — response to a malevolently indifferent society.”

The Mirror: ***** “Phoenix has always been a gloriously intense and uncompromising performer and here he achieves greatness with a mesmerising turn as Joker, which drags you kicking and screaming inside the worldview of a man as he goes violently insane.”

Joker is out in cinemas now.

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