“Joker” is already off and running with rave reviews.
The new “Joker” film — which stars Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck, who eventually becomes the famous comic book villain The Joker — has been getting several positive reviews over the last weeks.
But the film, which debuted at the Venice Film Festival, may soon cause some controversy, too, for the way it glorifies a single individual who loses touch with reality.
After attending the Venice Film Festival, Variety reporter Brent Lang wrote that the film risks being considered controversial, and that the film’s run in theaters could be plagued by such problems.
Though the film had an eight-minute standing ovation, critics said they were worried that viewers will sympathize “with a homicidal loner at a time when America and the rest of the world are plagued by gun violence.”
“That all but guarantees that ‘Joker’ will be a topic of fierce debate at Toronto ... as critics and audiences grapple over the questions of whether it’s a brilliant piece of art or a danger to society,” according to Variety.
As ComicBook.com explained, the film “runs the risk of being perceived as glorification of what one angry and disturbed loner is able to accomplish. That kind of message is severely ill-timed, as continued strings of mass shootings and other real-life acts of terrorism have sparked widespread discussion about what kind of violent men there are lurking in the societal underbelly.”
“But it’s not as if we don’t know how this pathology works: In America, there’s a mass shooting or attempted act of violence by a guy like Arthur practically every other week,” she wrote. “And yet we’re supposed to feel some sympathy for Arthur, the troubled lamb; he just hasn’t had enough love. Before long, he becomes a vigilante folk hero — his first signature act is to kill a trio of annoying Wall Street spuds while riding the subway, which inspires the masses to don clown masks and march enthusiastically around the city with ‘Kill the Rich!’ placards.”
There was little to no surprise when the film received an R rating from the MPAA, according to the Deseret News. Critics said the film would be creepy, a little silly, and unlike any other recent DC film, making it a prime candidate for the R-rating.
And it probably won’t be safe for children. “Joker” will have strong bloody violence, disturbing behavior, language and some sexual images.
“I think there will be some 21-year-olds that go and watch it who just think it’s a version of a Joker story. And that’s fine, too,” Phillips said. “I don’t want to define it as this message movie, because it’s not. But it definitely is, the same way that ‘The Dark Knight’ was not a message movie, but it definitely was a post-9/11 (commentary.)”
“Joker” is rated R for strong bloody violence, disturbing behavior, language, and brief sexual images.