Few characters have captivated audiences more than the Joker. Whether it be Ledger’s Oscar-winning performance or Nicholson’s chilling portrayal, the sinister villain has gained a large following. Joaquin Pheonix is taking the helm as the clown in the 2019 Joker film and if early reviews are a sign to things to come, the Joker legend may be growing even larger.
After premiering at the Venice film festival Joker has garnered an impressive 85% on Rotten Tomatoes. One of the common themes in the overwhelmingly positive reviews is the reaction to Joaquin Pheonix’s portrayal of the titular character.
Joaquin Pheonix Lives Up To Expectations
Pheonix isn’t a stranger to critically acclaimed performances. The actor has been nominated for three Oscars throughout his career. The actor may just get another nomination with this performance. An IGN review that gave Joker a “10/10” had this to say about Pheonix’s performance “…this is Phoenix’s film and he delivers a tour de force.” The same article continues to sing praise to Phoenix. IGN goes as far as to say the performance was “Oscar-worthy.”
If Joaquin was to win an Academy Award for his performance as the clown prince of crime, he wouldn’t be the first. Heath Ledger won the award in 2008 for his performance of the same character. While Ledger’s performance impressed, Pheonix may have an even greater opportunity to captivate audiences. While Heath plays the Joker in a supporting role, Joaquin will be the lead of the film. Not only is he in a leading role but the aforementioned IGN article claims “The camerawork is often claustrophobically tight on Phoenix, who’s in nearly every scene.” It seems Pheonix’s Joker will have more screen time than any other Joker depiction.
Todd Phillips Draws Inspiration From Acclaimed Director
The acting was not the only aspect of the film the critics appreciated. The director of the film, Todd Phillips, also managed to garner some high praise. Phillips, who directed The Hangover trilogy, has seemingly little experience with directing dramas. Most critics didn’t seem to have a problem with this, with Todd drawing comparisons to Goodfellas director, Martin Scorsese. The Guardian’s review of the film had this to say regarding the previously mentioned Phillips-Scorsese comparison: “Having brazenly plundered the films of Scorsese, Phillips fashions stolen ingredients into something new, so that what began as a gleeful cosplay session turns progressively more dangerous.” That quote specifically calls the film “dangerous” which leads to another aspect of the film that critics seemed to fall in love with.
The Joker is rated R implying a darker tale than most films set in a comic book universe. A review posted by Vanity called the film a “hypnotically perverse, ghoulishly grippingly urban-nightmare comic fantasia.”
Joker Gains Steam Before Wide Release
Adding on to the positive written reviews, the film also received an eight-minute standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival. According to Variety magazine, the film had two screenings which were both “packed” and the second screening featured “loud applause at the end and cheers when Phoenix’s name appeared in the closing credits.”
With the positive first impressions of the film, audiences around the world are more than likely anxious to feast their eyes on this potential cinematic masterpiece. Fourtanetly, those eager to see the movie won’t have to wait too much longer with Joker wide releasing on October 4th, 2019.
Between Joaquin Phoenix’s apparently masterful acting, Todd Phillips’ stylized direction and the overall positive reception of the film Joker just might be one of the best movies of the year. Comic book fans and cinema fans alike may get exactly what they were hoping for with a film that seems to be just as much a supervillain film as a character study.
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