Irrational Man  (2015)

Of all the directors I enjoy, I have the hardest time analyzing Woody Allen. I just have a very difficult time separating him from his work. I feel like his movies are more personal, more autobiographical, more representative of his true feelings than other directors. It's not that Kubrick or Scorsese aren't connected to their work, but Allen just has his own writing and directing style that feels more intimate. Obviously his tabloid scandals cast an influence, and it makes me watch the movies through a different lens as well.

Allen has a tradition of the older man/younger woman romance, and in this case there's the added level of professor/student. Joaquin Phoenix plays Abe Lucas, a self-destructive philosophy professor. Emma Stone plays Jill, a student at a distinguished Ivy League-ish school in New England. Lucas has that cliched quality of the sexy professor, impressing his younger students with his experience and wisdom, while the young girls fall for everything he says. Lucas is sick of life, drinking himself into oblivion, and struggling to find meaning in anything. A chance occurrence in a diner opens a series of events that rejuvenate him, but lead down a dicey path.

This was an example of Woody Allen's dramatic side, no wackiness like "Sleeper" or "Love & Death", no supernatural influences like "Midnight In Paris" or "Scoop"...something more along the lines of "Crimes and Misdemeanors" or "Match Point". When you boil it down, "Crimes" and "Match Point" have the same skeleton, and many of the same bones appear in "Irrational Man". It's a crime story, with a love story woven in.

Emma Stone and Colin Firth had zero chemistry in "Magic in the Moonlight", but I felt that she was a bit more comfortable with Joaquin Phoenix. Parker Posey also has this amazing ability to portray someone that used to be hot. I'm not entirely sure how else to explain it, but whenever I see her I feel like her character used to be a wild child but has been tamed.

With Allen's prodigious output, there are bound to be ups and downs. I topped a hill with "Midnight In Paris", fell into a valley with "Magic in the Moonlight", but started to climb back up with "Irrational Man" ...not amongst my favorite Allen movies, but definitely not one of the worst.

 

 

On the [Celluloid Hero] scale, "Irrational Man" gets a 6 out of 10.