A coal-black, subversively awestruck overhaul of everything which a mass-market, studio-produced comic-book spin-off is capable, "Joker" paints a vision so raw, so singular and ultimately so emphatic it plays like the greatest early-'80s Martin Scorsese picture there never was. And yet, in 2019, here it is, an astonishing high-wire show written and directed by Todd Phillips (2016's "War Dogs") and co-written by Scott Silver (2016's "The Finest Hours"). A gritty, aching, altogether chilling character study under the guise of a DC Comics origin story for Batman's future clown-faced foe, this hard-R crime drama genuinely surprises and rattles with the kind of uncompromising relish rarely, if ever, seen before within this particular genre pocket. If Heath Ledger's unforgettable Oscar-winning performance as the Joker in 2008's "The Dark Knight" felt like the final word on this iconic character, think again; Joaquin Phoenix (2014's "Inherent Vice") not only put his own personal stamp on it, he takes the role to heretofore unseen places of piercing psychological and emotional torment.
See Dustin Putman, TheFilmFile.com. for full review