Archive for September, 2015

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Director: Woody Allen

Writer: Woody Allen

Country: USA

Runtime: 95 mins

Cast: Joaquín Phoenix (Prof. Abe Lucas), Emma Stone (Jill Pollard), Parker Posey (Rita Richards), Jamie Blackley (Roy)

In a directorial career as long as Woody Allen’s it is inevitable that there will be a few misfires between the hits. After the well-deserved success of 2013’s Blue Jasmine, I’m afraid Irrational Man is a bit of a dud. Joaquín Phoenix plays Abe Lucas, a star philosophy professor who finds that his lingering depression disappears the moment that he decides to murder a corrupt judge for no other reason than that it will make the world a better place.

Lucas’s turn around happens when he realises that he is being held back by his endless philosophising. Action is what matters, and action is only possible if you embrace your intuitions. Later, when his student lover Jill figures out that Lucas murdered the judge, he insists that he did what he believed to be right. There  are echoes here, perhaps, of certain politicians’ justifications for authorising military action against Iraq. Does Allen intend a coded message for us?

Phoenix himself is fully believable as the anguished academic and receives solid support from Emma Stone and Parker Posey as his love interests. However, the film is too much of a one-tone piece, for which the blame must fall upon Allen’s screenplay. It lacks any real tension and drama. Neither Abe Lucas or Jill Pollard are particularly likeable or sympathetic characters, which makes it hard to care too much whether or not Lucas will get away with his crime. This is a shame as the film’s basic idea holds quite a lot of promise, but it feels like an idea that was never fully developed, and so ultimately Irrational Man just doesn’t deliver.

Rating: 3/5