Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck in Joker / Photo Credit: 2019 Warner Bros. Pictures
Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck in Joker / Photo Credit: 2019 Warner Bros. Pictures

Review Score: 5/5

Arthur Fleck isn’t a name comic book fans are familiar with. That’s because in creating new movie Joker, director/writer Todd Phillips and co-writer Scott Silver decided that they would be bringing an entirely new story to audiences who have known the titular DC villain for decades. Creating an origins story for the most infamous comic book character of all time was always going to be a challenge, so how did they do? Freaking fantastic.

Joaquin Phoenix takes on the lead role and when we meet him, he’s hanging onto his career as a clown-for-hire by a thread. In the midst of 1980s Gotham City – downtrodden and dismal – he is the subject of abuse from his fellow citizens, who we see use him as a punching bag on more than one occasion. Though he pleads for assistance from his fellow man, he is ignored; cast aside by a society that has failed him, and a state that isn’t doing enough to lend a helping hand.

Judging Joker on its name and comic book connection alone would be a mistake: this is a movie that is a real examination of mental health and the human condition. Despite the fictional setting, here is a film that is grounded completely in reality, unafraid to show the darker side of human nature and willing to confront its audience with uncomfortable truths. Anybody with an interest in psychology will be enthralled by this character study.

There’s not a single scene throughout the film that doesn’t include Arthur, which actually allows those watching the chance to empathise with him, despite knowing exactly where the character is headed and his penchant for murder. He’s an anti-hero in every sense, but it’s easy to see exactly how his actions inspire an uprising for change.

Phoenix gives the performance of a lifetime, showing from the emotional start to the stunning finish exactly why he’s being celebrated so intensely this awards season. He gives his all to the character, dropping over 50 pounds in his real-life by eating just a single apple a day throughout the summer to do so. That dedication shines, as his passion for his work is complemented perfectly by an incredible and atmospheric score.

It’s pretty impossible to imagine Joker’s origin story being done in a better way. The team behind this dark and devastating can stand proudly by their work, confident in the knowledge that they have done themselves and the character they were tasked with fleshing out a background for very proud.

Special features - 3/5

There are a handful of featurettes available for fans after they’ve reached the end of the main event, and whilst they’re entertaining enough, it would have been great to see an expanded deleted scenes section. We know there’s a lot of stuff that didn’t make it into the movie, so why not allow us to sift through all of the footage that was left on the cutting room floor for ourselves?

Joker is available now on Blu-ray, 4K, Limited Edition Amazon Exclusive 4K and Blu-ray Steel Book, as well as Limited Edition tradewide 4K and Blu-ray Steel Book, DVD and Digital Download now.

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