josh lewis’s review published on Letterboxd:
about as sophisticated and nuanced an exploration of violence, poverty, abuse, mental health and This Political Moment as any other todd phillips film but i guess im supposed to take it seriously because it wears much better films like a shoddy human skinsuit, puts some moody strings on the soundtrack and knows how to mimic a color palette. i would truly like to know what it is that people find "daring" and "complex" about this considering that beyond its hollow replication of style it ultimately boils down to an insanely simplistic "impoverished material conditions... bad imo... expressing rage towards the people directly responsible for those conditions? also bad imo." a genuinely troubling joker movie would be more morally confused and ambiguous than this centrist scold (it's strange to me that people are saying that it is considering how painfully overt phillips' THIS. IS. BAD. gestures are), it would be interested in a thornier, righteous rage or how fleck's violent actions are tied to an ideology and then having us understand how his alienation attracted him to it but instead they've went completely literal and apolitical; to the point where they have him... straight up say this in his big monologue at the end, the last line (joke?) of which btw is some of the most embarrassing writing i've seen this year. and not to mention it makes zero sense in the context of the film when it arrives, i get that the character of the joker is supposed to be apolitical, anarchy or ~chaos~ or whatever but the film spends most of its runtime quite literally showing us (and having us empathize with) the very real class and political reasons that drive the actions he's taking so it doesn't really work here??? it just solidifies how all the elements that are meant to provide this with a "real", gritty texture (the class dynamics, for example, which are supposedly making this such a brilliant character study) are nothing more than decoration to move the absolute safest, most boring, status quo bullshit imaginable that just constantly insists that it's taboo. and people are believing it at its word for some reason?? luckily for the film phoenix is about as good as one could be with writing this moronic and implies a much better movie but every critic who suggested this was "dangerous" and not just the lamest posturing nonsense should lose their jobs.