Joker

Critics Consensus

Joker gives its infamous central character a chillingly plausible origin story that serves as a brilliant showcase for its star -- and a dark evolution for comics-inspired cinema.

69%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 520

88%

Audience Score

Verified Ratings: 65,041
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Movie Info

"Joker" centers around the iconic arch nemesis and is an original, standalone fictional story not seen before on the big screen. Phillips' exploration of Arthur Fleck, who is indelibly portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix, is of a man struggling to find his way in Gotham's fracturedsociety. A clown-for-hire by day, he aspires to be a stand-up comic at night...but finds the joke always seems to be on him. Caught in a cyclical existence between apathy and cruelty, Arthur makes one bad decision that brings about a chain reaction of escalating events in this gritty character study.

Cast

Joaquin Phoenix
as Arthur Fleck / Joker
Robert De Niro
as Murray Franklin
Zazie Beetz
as Sophie Dumond
Brett Cullen
as Thomas Wayne
Douglas Hodge
as Alfred Pennyworth
Josh Pais
as Hoyt Vaughn
Jolie Chan
as Street Worker
Mary Kate Malat
as Murray Franklin Intern
Dante Pereira-Olson
as Young Bruce Wayne
Sharon Washington
as Social Worker
Elizabeth Bluhm
as Protestor
David Iacono
as Flirting Man On Bus
Chuck Taber
as Delivery Man
Adrienne Lovette
as Middle Aged Woman
Tony D. Head
as WGC News Anchor
View All

News & Interviews for Joker

Critic Reviews for Joker

All Critics (520) | Top Critics (56) | Fresh (357) | Rotten (163)

  • What the film wants to say - about mental illness or class divisions in society - is not as interesting as what it accidentally says about whiteness.

    Oct 24, 2019 | Full Review…
  • A movie that borders on genius-repellant, dark, terrifying, disgusting, brilliant and unforgettable.

    Oct 7, 2019 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

    Rex Reed

    Observer
    Top Critic
  • If there is a meaningful difference between performing and acting, Joaquin Phoenix surely exemplifies the former here, creepily contorting as the Clown Prince of Crime in Todd Phillips' timely, toxic take on the Making of a Murdering Madman.

    Oct 4, 2019 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • While it succeeds in aping the superficial aspects of [Martin] Scorsese's style, "Joker" lacks the intelligence or gravitas of Scorsese's best work.

    Oct 4, 2019 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • A movie of a cynicism so vast and pervasive as to render the viewing experience even emptier than its slapdash aesthetic does.

    Oct 4, 2019 | Full Review…
  • Bleak and juvenile

    Oct 4, 2019 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Joker

  • Nov 25, 2019
    Absolutely pulverizing. And then there's also Joaquin Phoenix's performance. What happens to a soul constantly maligned, constantly lied to, and where even an embrace is a lie? This warning shot over the head of Western civilization is about a society that never gets a break, and loaded with more cultural references that you can shake a stick at. I didn't want to see it because I thought it would be disturbing. I was not disappointed. It is. But in a good way. Good stuff, and the best performance I've seen on film since Precious.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Nov 22, 2019
    A brilliant film. I was, frankly, surprised by the divisive reviews. I am not sure if people were caught off guard because this was "supposed" to be a comic book movie. The previews evoke, in the most obvious ways, the inspiration of the story. It is not Batman, it is Taxi Driver and the King of Comedy. This is a character study that I, respectfully, think it is not supposed to be grand social commentary. It is blunt, raw and real. It is roughly two hours of watching one of the big screen's finest actors showcase his abilities. I suspect the one universal for this film is that it is maybe not exactly what you expected, but it stands out as a triumph. The performance is this film's centerpiece without a doubt. A man who is different by a stroke of bad fortune both biological and largely social. The system does not really hate him for it, but it doesn't care for him. This is established in a matter of fact way. The world is broken. The narrative works because its all the character needs. I am not sure more is expected. Gotham is not some distance far away it's the heart of urban America right now, against the gritty backdrop of yesterday. I think this is the brilliance of the movie. You parachute into a world you already know and watch the fierce reality of how it breaks people. No one in this movie gets your sympathy. Everyone simply gets what they deserve.
    Shane S Super Reviewer
  • Oct 19, 2019
    THE WILD CARD OF COMEDY - My Review of JOKER (4 Stars) Martin Scorsese's The King Of Comedy remains my favorite of his films. Just as Network presaged the news would devolve into entertainment, Scorsese's film predicted the consequences of a pop culture-obsessed society in which amorality wins in the end. The rise of Robert De Niro's Rupert Pupkin, a struggling comic who lives with his mother and helps kidnap a talk show host in order to get on the air, feels quaint when compared to Joker, its nihilistic, spiritual cousin. With De Niro cast, this time, as the successful talk show host, Joker comes across as King's bloodier, darker sequel of sorts. Add elements of Taxi Driver and bits of Michael Jackson's story, and you get this immersive, disturbing film from Todd Phillips, best known as the director of the Hangover franchise. For me, it's one of the most impressive leaps forward for a filmmaker since Craig Maizin (coincidentally no stranger to the Hangover films) shucked off his big, dumb comedy skills and created Chernobyl. Joaquin Phoenix stars as Arthur Fleck, a professional clown who has an unnamed, but Tourette's syndrome adjacent, condition which causes him to laugh at the most inopportune times. His meager existence, which includes living in squalor and caring for his dying mother (France Conroy), serves as a stark contract to his vivid inner life in which he's a sweet, promising standup comic who fantasizes about appearing on The Murray Franklin Show. Arthur, ever the unreliable narrator of his own story, suffers from extreme ostracization and bullying, barely able to ever make it home without taking a beating in a dingy alleyway. It's no wonder Arthur feels like the living, breathing exemplar of a mental breakdown. Phillips and his talented cinematographer, Lawrence Sher, hone in on Arthur and never let go, employing shallow focus, disorienting music, and the constant threat of violence to convince you how easily the outcasts of the world can snap and exert their power. Joker by no means provides a fun experience, but it has a relentless, consistent focus on the mindset of a good-natured guy who has reached his limits of abuse. More character study than your typically action-packed DC Comics movie, Joker has a slow burn, much like Taxi Driver. Arthur, like Travis Bickle and Pupkin, can't seem to impress the women in their sights. In Arthur's case, she's Sophie (Zazie Beetz), a single mother in his building. Guys like Arthur, however, never find love, especially when they're too busy getting kicked. When it seems the world has conspired against him too many times, Arthur adopts his Joker persona and, like Bickle, commits a series of horrendous murders. His antiestablishment stances inspire a burgeoning cult of mask-wearing followers, a scarier, extremist version of the Occupy Wall Street protesters. The film feels like a product of our current times, where unfit leaders proliferate and civil discourse has evaporated. It has no expansive CGI sequences and only a hint of a big, action set piece. It's all about character, character, character. In other words, this is one comic book film I can truly embrace. Every moment feels overwhelming, dire and sad. Phoenix goes deep here, flailing about, doing a little tap dance because that's what he thinks of as entertainment, and making your heart break for a guy who can't seem to catch one. Even when he snags that proverbial golden ticket late in the film, he can't help but make a grand mess of it all. Although he plays one of the most notorious of supervillains, Phoenix bleeds for his character and while not making him necessarily sympathetic, his actions feel supported by the crushing society he endures. His performance has so much humanity, filled with rage, psychosis, and yes, an aching need to feel acceptance and love. Sometimes when Phoenix gets lost in a character, I only notice the hard work. Here, I felt his passion. Occasionally, Phillips brings us sequences of Arthur blissing out to music, waving his arms around like a conductor on a drug-fueled high. The song selections here could have been less on the nose, with such titles as "That's Life", "Send In The Clowns" and "Smile" filling up an obvious set list, but Phoenix sells this as his inner soundtrack nonetheless. It also has too many endings, which leads to a little confusion in the final moments. I would have preferred the final shot be of Arthur standing on top of a car much like Michael Jackson did at his infamous molestation trial, and greeting his acolytes. The similarities between these two "freaks" could not feel more pronounced than in this sequence. Ultimately, I'm not sure what Joker is trying to say. Is it conservative? Liberal? Are we celebrating his crimes because we know his pain? Or are his actions those of a person with a persecution complex who only deserves our scorn? Is he the love child of Rupert Pupkin and Travis Bickle, who gets away with far more than those two did combined? I'm not exactly sure, but as a cautionary tale of what happens to the people we throw away, Joker, while one of the ugliest filmgoing experiences I've had in a long while, deals a pummeling but winning hand.
    Glenn G Super Reviewer
  • Oct 17, 2019
    #TheJokerMovie proves yet again that MCU is fun. DCU isn't. Yes, Joaquin Phoenix delivers an amazing, hard-to-watch, performance, but the origin story is a failure. According to this, Joker is about 40 years older than Batman. Huh? Movie ended. No applause. Everyone just filed out quietly as the credits rolled.Worth checking out for Joaquin's acting, but not to be entertained, just depressed.
    Joe S Super Reviewer

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