After Heath Ledger gave his show-stopping performance as The Joker in The Dark Knight, taking on the role of the comic book villain seems something of an impossible task.
Jared Leto’s take on the character didn’t receive the warmest of responses in Suicide Squad. All things considered, you’d be forgiven for being a little sceptical about the upcoming Joker movie.
Any worries have seemingly been put to bed though, after the film received an eight-minute standing ovation after its premiere at Venice Film Festival.
In fact, just about every early review has been nothing short of incredible. The word ‘masterpiece’ is being thrown out a lot among critics with the flick even being labeled “The Taxi Driver of superhero films.”
JOKER is a bold, bodacious love letter to Scorsese's #TheKingOfComedy, told through the lens of DC's most iconic villain. Dark, disturbing, brutal & sad, it's about an abused man who doesn't start living until he's dead inside. Joaquin Phoenix is so damn good#JokerMovie pic.twitter.com/WCk1Ya4FFG— Erik Davis (@ErikDavis) August 31, 2019
Here are just a few of the early glowing reviews.
“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. His usual intensity is on full display and it’s captivating, even overwhelming in moments.
“Bold, devastating and utterly beautiful, Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix have not just reimagined one of the most iconic villains in cinema history, but reimagined the comic book movie itself.”
“It’s a radical interpretation that requires a transformative, thoroughly committed performance, and it’s remarkable to see Joaquin Phoenix take this role and play it as though he were the first actor to ever take it on (and in a way, he is). Arthur is both manic and often inappropriately externalises his emotions, but Phoenix takes what might have been a turn filled with over-swings, and makes it all feel disturbingly natural.
“You’ll definitely feel like you’ll need a shower after seeing it, but once you’ve dried off and changed clothes, you’ll want to do nothing else but parse and dissect it.”
“Phoenix is playing a geek with an unhinged mind, yet he’s so controlled that he’s mesmerising. He stays true to the desperate logic of Arthur’s unhappiness.
“You’re always aware of how much the mood and design of Joker owe to Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy. For a filmmaker gifted enough to stand on his own, Phillips is too beholden to his idols. Yet within that scheme, he creates a dazzlingly disturbed psycho morality play, one that speaks to the age of incels and mass shooters and no-hope politics, of the kind of hate that emerges from crushed dreams.”
Joker hits theatres October 4.