Starring Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone
Caught between the woman he should love and the one who will be his ruin, a man finds himself discovering the reason for his existence in Woody Allen’s latest movie Irrational Man. It’s a witty tale of love and self-loathing that takes unexpected and technically unwarranted turns that save the film from spiralling into yet another film about age difference. Joaquin Phoenix is Abe, an out-of-shape philosophy professor who hasn’t been able to see the upside of anything since his divorce several years prior. He’s starting a new job at a tiny Rhode Island university, and he has a bad boy reputation that seems to have beat him to campus. It doesn’t take long for Abe to catch the eye of not one, but two women. The first is Rita (Parker Posey), a fellow professor who is sexually frustrated by her marriage, and the other is a promising young student named Jill (Emma Stone). Abe finds something he enjoys in both, though what exactly draws him to them remains largely a mystery, and in classic Allen fashion there is plenty of exposition filled with jabs and quips regarding Abe’s interest in women nearly half his age. The film focuses solely on this love triangle for the majority of its first two acts, but things take a surprising turn when Abe overhears a stranger complaining about a tough judge who has basically promised them that they will never see their children again. Abe has no connection to the judge, nor the case being discussed, but for some reason learning about this corrupt official ignites a fire inside Abe’s soul that leads him to decide the only proper course of action is murder. After all, no one will be able to connect him to a case involving people he has never actually met. It’s the perfect crime. In true Allen style instead of tying everything up in a neat little bow at the end, Woody leaves a lot of the issues plaguing Abe unresolved, which forces the audience to question not only the motivation behind his actions, but also his sanity. Is Abe a man pushed too far by a society that doesn’t allow time for depression and regret, or is he a mad man from the beginning. The answer is open to debate and that’s what makes Irrational Man linger in the viewer’s mind far longer than other recent films by the storied director.
Rated M 6 out of 10
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