PG Score: 9/10
Joker lives up to the hype. Joaquin Phoenix gives his best performance by far, and it's actually one of the best performances I've ever seen in general. It's downright intoxicating. He is genuinely haunting and disturbing, yet the last thing you want to do is peel your eyes off the screen for even a millisecond. This is a character study of a man who is gradually descending into madness. I got a lot of Falling Down vibes here, especially early on. The decline into depravity is brilliantly orchestrated both by Phoenix's masterclass performance and some seriously killer screenplay. It's truly amazing that Todd Phillips went from directing movies like The Hangover and Old School (both very funny in their own right) to this. The transition here is flat out incredible.
The violence, while infrequent, is extremely unsettling in all the right ways. It's not easy to catch me off guard, especially when it comes to bloodshed in movies, but let's just say I was left speechless more than I'd care to admit. The score here is powerful, man, just powerful, as the music accompanies the onscreen mayhem and pain oh so beautifully. The social commentary is effective and meaningful, partly because it is not shoved in the viewer's face. They leave the full plate on the table, but it's up to you to pick at what you like.
I also really enjoyed the clever references to the universe it takes place in. It's easy to forget that this is a DC movie that takes place in Gotham. There are no comic book vibes here. They clearly wanted to make a stand-alone film and they succeeded without a doubt. The references here were conveyed in a way that Batman fans will appreciate, while those who couldn’t care less won’t be left feeling like they're watching a comic book-type movie.
This is a masterpiece, though it is worth watching for JP's performance alone. He 100% deserves an Oscar nom and is the most deserving candidate for the award so far. Even so, the movie isn't stellar just because of his acting; this is a home run through and through. I highly recommend that everyone (both comic book movie fans and non-comic book movie fans alike) see Joker in theaters at least once. I can't wait to go again.