Irrational Man

Abe (Joaquin Phoenix) is a burned out, impotent philosophy professor who’s looking for the will to live. A fellow teacher (Parker Posey) throws herself at him and a pretty and 45-Irrational-Man_1promising student (Emma Stone) engages him mentally, but he’s still, shall we say, unresponsive, until he starts plotting a hypothetical murder.

Joaquin and Emma have an easy rapport that’s eminently watchable, when the dialogue’s not getting in the way. The story is partially inspired by Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, about a university student who commits murder to prove that he is morally superior to other people. But both Dostoevsky’s student and Woody Allen’s professor are only pretending that murder would be to help others, or the world in general. In fact, it’s a pretty selfish pursuit, even when purely cerebral. Can thoughts of murder really be a “creative 635725682661364214-11-1600x900-c-defaultendeavour”, or is that just the typical justification of an unfulfilled philosophy professor?

Woody Allen struggles to sound authentic around some of the philosophical arguments, and Joaquin doesn’t do a much better job conveying them. And Allen’s dialogue surrounding the erection difficulty is as stilted and awkward  as only Woody Allen can be – which doesn’t quite sound right coming from Joaquin, even with his 30 pounds of pot belly. Allen’s more adept with the cynicism and the dark humour (not to mention age-inappropriate romance), and when the material’s good, he’s hired actors talented enough to handle it. So this movie is not without merit. It’s also just not very original (even among Allen’s oeuvre) or very necessary, and the unevenness almost drove me batty.

Verdict: quintessential mediocre Allen.

8 thoughts on “Irrational Man

  1. reocochran

    I have been dismayed at several of his recent movies, some like the Midnight Walk (title?) filled with plenty of famous people. I also must wonder why he insists on pairing older men with much younger women. I know the answer but surely he understands it is rather upsetting with the shopgirl being in her twenties and Steve Martin being whatever he is. Wasn’t Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson in one? I realize Joaquin isn’t ancient. . . I liked Blue Jasmine but would have to leave the page to find out if that was Woody Allen, Jay. There is a bit of a “rant.” Thanks for warning me since I like Emma Stone and may have accidentally spent money on this one! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jay Post author

      Yeah, I haven’t loved many of his movies lately either. I think his best days are behind him. And he needs to show us an age-appropriate relationship once in a while – they do exist!!!


      1. ninvoid99

        Yep, I did an Auteurs piece on him in 2013 for the summer and… it nearly killed me as I had to watch a bunch of his work that I hadn’t seen. I don’t recommend doing an entire summer devoted to Woody.


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