First 'Joker' reviews call it a ‘masterpiece,’ hail Joaquin Phoenix

Gregory Wakeman
Joaquin Phoenix as Joker.

Todd Phillips and Joaquin Phoenix’s take on Joker finally premiered at the Venice Film Festival on Saturday, and critics quickly took to Twitter to heap praise on the origin story for the legendary villain.

Alex Billington of First Showing was arguably the most glowing with his acclaim for the film, calling it “gnarly,” crazy” and “audacious,” while insisting, “There will be before Joker. And there will be after Joker.”

Awais Irfan of Film Bite even went as far as to call it a “masterpiece,” adding, “It’s F***** UP. This film is sinister and uncomfortable in the best way; I’m actually just shocked it exists … This is a DC film. And it is DARK AND DISTURBING. I am in pure awe and I’m actually delirious. I was not at all expecting that.”

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Erik Davis of Fandango, also called the film “bold” and “bodacious,” as well as “dark, disturbing, brutal and sad.”

Robbie Collin of the Telegraph didn’t post his thoughts to Twitter, instead saving them for his four-star review, which compared Joker to Fight Club.

“Make no mistake, this is a film that is going to stir up trouble - in the consciences of everyone who watches it, and almost certainly in the outside world as well.”

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Terri White of Empire gave Joker a five-star review, writing, “It’s a character and a movie that’s liberated, entirely. Free to be whatever and whomever it choose.”

The 76th Venice Film Festival - Screening of the film "Joker" in competition - Red Carpet Arrivals- Venice, Italy, August 31, 2019 - Cast member Joaquin Phoenix and director Todd Phillips pose. REUTERS/Yara Nardi

Not all of the responses were full of praise, though, as David Ehrlich’s C+ review for Indiewire called it the “boldest and most exciting superhero movie since The Dark Knight,” but also “incendiary, confused, and potentially toxic.”

We’ll finally get to see which of these Joker reviews to believe when it is released on October 4.