Joker. 2019. USA. Directed by Todd Phillips. Written by Phillips and Scott Silver. With Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz. 122 min.
Todd Phillips’s Joker injects a new level of menace into the story of the notorious comic book villain, tracing the descent of Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), a mentally disturbed aspiring stand-up comic and amateur clown. Dark, sinister, and atmospheric, the film depicts Gotham City—a barely fictionalized vision of New York City circa 1981—on the brink of apocalypse. In an unhinged tour-de-force performance, Phoenix plays Joker with total abandon, unleashing his character’s devilish inner torment. His animalistic, trance-like physicality earned him an unusual dance review in the New York Times, which noted that his moves are “no joke.” Courtesy Warner Brothers.