Woody Allen – actor, director and media circus attractor returns in his latest film, Irrational Man. Experiencing an existential crisis, well-known professor of philosophy Abe Lucas (Joaquin Phoenix) relocates to a small-town college where, after meeting and getting involved with his student, Jill (Emma Stone), Abe discovers a whole new and ‘irrational’ perspective in life.
Abe Lucas is a man of many things; he consistently flirts with his students, apparently cheated on his wife and has a fervent passion for alcohol. Upon his arrival at the obscure Braylin College, Abe is instantly popular and a hit with both staff and students. But with his life still depressingly empty and obsolete, Abe suffers to find happiness and meaning. However, the remedy comes in the form of an overheard conversation about a nasty custody battle, taking place after having a meal with Jill. After this newfound perspective in life, Abe begins to envision a brighter and positive world – one without the judge.
After much lighter fare in recent releases such as Magic in the Moonlight and Midnight in Paris, iconic director Woody Allen returns in the vain of his previous films – Match Point, Crimes and Misdemeanors – focusing on an anti-hero character type who experiences a philosophical crisis and grimly, homicidal tendencies. Renowned for his philosophical propensity, Allen presents questions of morality and of course, philosophy.
Abe, like many of Allen’s famed characters, struggles with their inner self and in turn, make horrible and unfortunate decisions that lead to their demise. Like its main character, Irrational Man makes many bumbling and muddled choices – from stiff and cultured dialogue to uncertain script decisions – the unsteady path of Allen’s film ultimately suffers. From the man that brought so many acclaimed films, Allen sadly disappoints and fails to deliver this time around.
Whilst Phoenix hones in his famed angsty, alcoholic persona effectively, Stone’s talents are squandered. Regardless, both bring an interesting dynamic to the cynical film. Stone, after appearing in last year’s Magic in the Moonlight, has been noted as Allen’s current muse. Unfortunately, her latest characters under Allen’s direction have seemly fallen flat and the actress herself miscast.
It’s cynical, odd and mystifying, a humble mix of Allen’s technique, Irrational Man proves to be entertaining – albeit to a small class of viewers who are Woody Allen devotees.
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