Review: Joker will haunt the recesses of my soul until the end of time

To take a comic book character and deliver a Joker that's already been considered worthy of an Oscar and make it so again is no mean feat.

But here you have it - Joaquin Phoenix as Joker will haunt the recesses of my soul until the end of time.

This is Arthur Fleck before he becomes Joker, his backstory told through the darkest of lenses and with unflinching proximity. The physical brutality in itself is unsparing, augmented not just by that very proximity but by the emotional journey we are taking with him.

We bear witness to his every failure, every torment, every beat-down as we inexorably begin our plunge into Joker.

Every crevice, every tear, every dance; his eyes dead, his mouth smiling, the tragic maniacal laughter which becomes so harrowing to watch and hear - it's an astonishing thing to experience on the big screen.

So is Joker really a comic book movie? It certainly doesn't feel like one and my advice is not to expect one.

Amidst the constructs of the genre, this film certainly has much to say. There's no question it's political and this Gotham feels deeply embedded in our times.

As a standalone piece of cinema documenting the grim descent of a broken human being into madness this is visceral, confronting, uncomfortable and flawed. Gifted storytelling in places, heavy-handed when it needn't be in others, there is so very little light in the dark and there is nothing blockbuster here.

Leave the popcorn at home and bring the Prozac - you may need a hug as well.

Robert De Niro turns in a terrific performance as TV host Murray Franklin. Every beat is in tune with his character, with the added joy of knowing the DNA of his Travis Bickle (Taxi Driver) and his Rupert Pupkin (The King of Comedy) informed and inspired the filmmakers.

The relationship between Arthur and his idol Murray is a pivotal one, as Arthur's wild-eyed childhood dream of being a stand-up comic himself is reflected back through the television into the bleak living room in the dingy apartment he shares with his obsessive mother. 

Never forget, the Joker we are watching is the Joker told through Arthur Fleck.

Did I enjoy Joker, and will you? Only you will know that and you'll of course need to see it to find out, as the trailer alone won't cut it.

For me, I love my movie-going experience to be deeply memorable and there are so many moments here which will remain etched onto my consciousness forever.

Joker delivers on that front in spades.

Four-and-a-half stars.