Joker is once again "certified fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes following a fluctuating score that dipped on Thursday, temporarily stripping the Todd Phillips-directed DC Comics drama of its certification.
On Wednesday, Rotten Tomatoes declared Joker "certified fresh" after reviews settled at 79%. Ahead of its debut in theaters on Thursday, an influx of new reviews brought Joker down to 69% — bringing it below the threshold for a film to be designated "certified fresh." Joker has once again reached 70%, restoring its certification.
Its critics consensus says Joker gives its "infamous central character," mentally troubled comedian Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), "a chillingly plausible origin story that serves as a brilliant showcase for its star — and a dark evolution for comics-inspired cinema."
Joker received some push back from critics, some expressing concerns the film sympathizes with a mentally ill loner who sparks violence against a society that rejected him — a narrative viewed by some as problematic amid real-life acts of terror and gun violence.
"Isn't it a good thing to put real-world implications on violence?" Phillips said during the New York Film Festival. "Isn't that a good thing to take away the cartoon element of violence that we've become so immune to? So I was a little surprised when it turns into that direction, that it seems irresponsible because to me it seems actually very responsible to make it feel real and make it that weight."
"It's a complicated movie and I've said it before that I think it's okay that's it's complicated," Phillips said. "I didn't imagine the level of discourse that it's reached in the world, honestly. I think it's interesting. I think it's okay that it sparks conversations and there are debates around it. The film is the statement and it's great to talk about it but it's much more helpful if you've seen it."
Director Todd Phillips' Joker centers around the iconic arch nemesis and is an original, standalone fictional story not seen before on the big screen. Phillips' exploration of Arthur Fleck, who is indelibly portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix, is of a man struggling to find his way in Gotham's fractured society. A clown-for-hire by day, he aspires to be a stand-up comic at night…but finds the joke always seems to be on him. Caught in a cyclical existence between apathy and cruelty, Arthur makes one bad decision that brings about a chain reaction of escalating events in this gritty character study.
Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy and Robert De Niro, Joker is now playing.