Todd Phillips’ origin story of the green-haired, cackling nemesis of Batman is a gritty, twisted and depraved telling of a somewhat unexplored comic book tale.

Phillips has obviously taken some inspiration Brian Bolland’s graphic novel, Batman: The Killing Joke. A book which is is often lauded as the pinnacle of the Joker’s story. In this version of the tale the audience is witness to the mental breakdown of Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) as he descends into the maddening self-pity of Joker.

Joker is a slow, methodical, character driven film set in a world which preys on the weak. The film is easily carried and pushed into the upper echelon by Phoenix’s performance. Phoenix strikes a frail, emaciated figure but his intensity shines through in his eyes and actions. His performance should certainly earn Phoenix and Oscar nod.

Hildur Guðnadóttir’s score also plays a crucial role in the film as it pulsates and throbs throughout the film as it slowly build the tension before the inevitable chaotic release.

Joker is a gritty, grounded and entirely new take on a well worn genre. The film stand on its own two feet outside of the DC Universe, viewers certainly do not need any comic knowledge to enjoy this phenomenal example of disturbing filmmaking.

★★★★ ½

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