Joaquin Phoenix delivers a career-best performance in Joker - a bloody, battered and bruised portrayal of a misunderstood man whose pained existence in a fractured and cruel world leads to worryingly nonchalant outbursts of violence.

Joaquin Phoenix delivers a career-best performance in Joker - a brutal and frighteningly real reflection of our divided world. Picture: LIGHT CINEMA WISBECHJoaquin Phoenix delivers a career-best performance in Joker - a brutal and frighteningly real reflection of our divided world. Picture: LIGHT CINEMA WISBECH

It's no surprise that this new origin story by director Todd Phillips has courted controversy - but the action that unfolds on the silver screen doesn't feel too far from the truth: a frighteningly real reflection of the increasingly divided world that we are living in IRL.

But where this film excels - as well as stunning shots of Gotham City and a doom-impending orchestral score - is how it acts as a gritty character study of a dangerous loner.

Arthur Fleck, aka Joker, feels trapped by his cyclical mind-numbing routine and disability which causes him to laugh uncontrollably at random moments.

Considering he's trying to make it as a stand-up comedian - bored of his day job as a clown-for-hire holding up advertising signs or entertaining sick children in hospital - it's safe to say the odds are stacked up against him.

As his tormented word begins to unravel, things start to get too much and he realises that he's not been happy a day in his life and that, strangely enough, the joke has always been on him.

This is where Phoenix's performance really shines; contrasting vulnerability and emotion with fury and resentment; switching from cold-blooded killer to a mummy's boy who just wants to be hugged.

Though his increasingly numbed violent actions are obviously incomprehensible, it's hard not to feel sorry for him - and that he's only taking his anger out on the world because of the way he's been treated.

Certain aspects of the movie - a viral video and a riot-inducing protest - do seem a little too on the nose, but help to ensure that there's enough substance to drive the story forward and keep the audience's attention across the two hour running time.

Joker is now showing at The Light Cinema in Wisbech. For screening dates, times and tickets visit www.wisbech.lightcinemas.co.uk/joker