Joker has been named as the most complained about film of 2019 by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC).
The gritty comic-book movie, which starred Oscar-winner Joaquin Phoenix in the titular role, saw 20 complaints made to the BBFC, with some viewers taking issue with its 15 age rating, claiming an 18 rating would have been more appropriate.
Meanwhile “a small number” of the complainants argued that the film should have been banned outright, according to the BBFC’s report.
The BBFC justified its decision to award the movie a 15 certificate, saying in the report: “There are scenes of strong violence in the film that include stabbings and shootings, with accompanying bloody injury detail. They do not, however, dwell on the infliction of pain or injury in a manner that requires an 18.”
In total the board received 149 complaints throughout the year – less than half the total for 2018, with The Favourite and John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum second and third on the list with 12 and 9 complaints respectively.
Despite the complaints – and a divisive reaction from critics and moviegoers – Joker was extremely successful, becoming the highest grossing R-rated movie of all time and surpassing $1 billion at the global box office.
In addition, the film scored 11 nominations at the Academy Awards – the highest for any film of the year – including nods for Best Picture and Best Director for Todd Phillips, although the film lost out to Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite for the top prize.
Joker follows Arthur Fleck, a struggling comedian suffering with unspecified mental health issues, as he gradually becomes the iconic Batman villain, and the film was peppered with violence and an unsettling atmosphere.
In addition to Phoenix, the film also starred Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz and Frances Conroy.
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