Thanks to it premiering on the festival circuit and all of the recent discourse surrounding its content, Joker is a film that feels as if it has been out for ages when in fact it's only just been released this weekend. My anticipation for its release was already sky-high but had only been heightened by the media claiming it to be a dangerous film to release to the public and the rise in security presence at recent premiere screenings in America however, does the film even deserve all the discourse it's seen before its release?

Having been disregarded by society, Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), a clown-for-hire, descends into a life of crime and infamy.
There's a deeply unsettling sense of impending violence that flows throughout Joker from start to finish, Arthur's descent towards a life of crime depicted in incredibly visceral fashion. It's a ticking time-bomb of a film that hones in on the mental state of its titular character and how he's viewed by society, Todd Phillips and Scott Silver not holding back in making Gotham a horrible place for Arthur to reside.

The production design ensures Gotham feels very much a character playing a part in Arthur's downward spiral, as does Lawrence Sher's glum cinematography and Hildur Guðnadóttir's minimal yet rather haunting score.

Joker is elevated to great heights by a mesmerisingly magnetic lead performance from Joaquin Phoenix, who yet again showcases why he is arguably the best actor working today with a performance for the ages. It's such a devastatingly beautiful performance that's both hard to watch at times yet hard to take your eyes off, Phoenix surely the man to beat come awards season. 

He's certainly the main attraction on show in Joker but he's dealt some stellar support from the likes of Robert De Niro, embracing the cheesy flair of his character, and Zazie Beetz, offering Arthur a glimmer of hope in his otherwise downbeat life.

Joker really is a stunning character study from Todd Phillips, unflinching in its approach and deeply unsettling in its execution, the performance from Joaquin Phoenix in particular making it a film that will certainly leave a lasting impression.

Verdict: ★★★★★


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