My distain for ‘comic-book-superhero-franchise’ movies is well documented. This though I’m pleased to say is an altogether different beast and okay it’s an origin story for one of the best known villains in comic history, but if you take away the famous make-up, this film really doesn’t change that much. It is dark. Exceptionally so. A celebration of the misunderstood outcast, played masterfully by Joaquin Phoenix. He’s often great (Her, Inherent Vice), sometimes less so, but here, here he is magnificent. There’s no sheen, little colour, rarely any positivity. Everything is worn, damaged, failing. From Arthur’s scrawled handwriting to the string instruments gently shredding the score. A balletic bathroom scene is beautifully pivotal, a simple marker turning point for the soft voiced tragic lead, but it doesn’t signal a change in tone for the film, just confidence as Arthur begins to negotiate a society that doesn’t care for people who don’t fit in. It’s a two hour bludgeoning with chaos unfurling for both antihero Arthur and the world around him as society rapidly breaks down. That’s what this is, simple social commentary. It’s no joke.