Joker: it’s almost commendable to what extent director Todd Phillips embraces the darkness in the genesis and study of the eponymous character; there is nary a joyful second in the whole runtime. However, a film with a protagonist this unpleasant, to say the least, should counterbalance making said character very interesting, and that’s not the case here; Joker is simply a shallow maniac. Furthermore, the film’s discourse tries too hard to justify his acts of violence; it doesn’t hide the fact he is a psychopath, per se, but doesn’t shy away from glorifying him either. A story this heavy and unappealing makes the film feel overlong, but the use of elements to create this world is excellent. Composer Hildur Guðnadóttir creates a very ominous musical score; Mark Friedberg’s production design, moodily captured by Lawrence Sher’s cinematography, creates a dirty, gritty, realistic world deeply in crisis. Above all, Joaquin Phoenix’s great performance (Robert De Niro and Frances Conroy are in fine shape, too): he convincingly creates a disturbed, disturbing man, using all his tools: his voice, expressions, physicality.