Joker has also received criticism for its depictions of violence


Awards season has officially begun, and Joker, the origin story of the famous Batman villain, is getting early Oscar buzz.

The film, which stars Joaquin Phoenix, won the Golden Lion top prize after it premiered at the Venice International Film Festival on Aug. 31, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Joker subsequently screened at the Toronto International Film Festival on Monday night and at both screenings, the movie was met with praise from critics. And while Phoenix was applauded for his “impressive” performance, the film received some backlash for its depictions of violence.

After Monday’s premiere, Collider’s Perri Nemiroff wrote, “#Joker is one of the most unnerving movies I’ve seen in years. Joaquin Phoenix is astounding – the physicality of his work is especially impressive. It’s very well made across the board but I also found it very upsetting & right now I can’t shake that. Need to sit with this more.”

“I saw #Joker — and it is unlike anything before it,” Brandon Davis of tweeted. “The movie is dark, thrilling, and chilling. An insane masterpiece. The movie absolutely transcends being a comic book film and acts as a character study which, at times, will make audiences uncomfortable in wild ways.”

Arthur Fleck/Joker-JOAQUIN PHOENIX
| Credit: Niko Tavernise

Some critics argued that the film glorified the Joker’s acts of violence.

Vanity Fair‘s Richard Lawson tweeted that Joker “is going to be, and should be, very controversial,” adding in his review that the film is “a troubling and arresting character study” that “gives way to veneration.”

In a review for TIME, Stephanie Zacharek wrote that “the movie lionizes and glamorizes Arthur even as it shakes its head, faux-sorrowfully, over his violent behavior.”

Joaquin Phoenix
Joaquin Phoenix at the Toronto International Film Festival
| Credit: George Pimentel/Getty
Joaquin Phoenix
Joaquin Phoenix at the Toronto International Film Festival
| Credit: Sam Santos/Getty

While speaking at the film’s Toronto International Film Festival premiere on Monday night, Phoenix, 44, said playing the Joker was “one of the greatest experiences of [his] career.”

“I mean honestly, it wasn’t an easy decision at first,” the actor said of taking the part, according to Variety. “I didn’t f—ing know. I didn’t. But then there was something that was drawing me toward it. It just evolved as we worked together. It started becoming something more than I anticipated. It was one of the greatest experiences of my career.”

The outlet also reported that Bradley Cooper, one of the film’s producers, sat in the audience of Monday night’s premiere event. The actor also posed for photos with the cast on the red carpet. Other celebrities at the screening included SNL‘s Lindsay Shookus, Charlie Hunam and Lucas Hedges.

The famous character has previously been portrayed by other A-list actors including Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger and Jared Leto.

Warner Bros has described the film as being an “exploration of a man disregarded by society [that] is not only a gritty character study but also a broader cautionary tale,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Joker hits theaters on Oct. 4.