Reviews from the critics who watched Joker at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) are streaming in, and the reception is definitely not as good as the one the movie received at the Venice Film Festival. From possessing a score of 85% in late August, the movie’s Rotten Tomato score has since fallen to 78%. As of this piece, just looking at the top critics alone, about half of them gave the movie a rotten score. From the 8 minute standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival, to a mere 20 second seated (albeit enthusiastic) applause at TIFF, how did it go so wrong?
Looking through the reviews, it is apparent that it is the morality of it all that critics question, and rightly so. Yes movies are meant to give us entertainment, a form of escape from the mundanity of our own 9 to 5 lives, but it also works as a lens to magnify and highlight social issues. So what is Joker delivering as a social commentary? According to David Edelstein’s review for Vulture, what the movie does is that “it exalts its protagonist and gives him the origin story of his dreams, in which killing is a just — and artful — response to a malevolently indifferent society.”
We are a far cry away from Heath Ledger’s Joker, where there was no logic or reason to justify his evil – he is the way he is because “some men just want to watch the world burn”.
We will just have to wait and see for ourselves which side we fall on come October 4th, 2019.