“Irrational Man” (2015)
Abe (Joaquin Phoenix) is the new professor on a small college campus. Abe is a legendary philosophy professor whose best work is behind him. He drinks too much (carrying around a flask in the open to imbibe in) and hasn’t written anything in years. He meets a fellow professor (Parker Posey) who made it very evident she is open to having sex with him.
The only bright spot in his life is a brilliant student of his, Jill (Emma Stone). Jill is fascinated by Abe, especially his worn-out view of life, challenging him to get over his funk. Even though she has a boyfriend, Roy (Jamie Blackley), she starts spending more and more time with Abe. Jill thinks that she has an open relationship with Roy and starts pressuring Abe to sleep with her.
Abe and Jill’s world is changed when they hear a woman complain to friends on how she is going to lose custody of her children due to a judge who is friends with her soon-to-be ex-husband. Abe decides that he must help the woman; which gives him a purpose in life and energizes him. The question is, just how far is Abe willing to go to help the woman?
Woody Allen wrote and directed this film that explores the meaning of life (or if you take Abe’s position, the meaninglessness of life) and whether committing a crime for the greater good is acceptable. My biggest problem with this film is that Allen lets his characters ramble to the point that I thought that many times Joaquin Phoenix seemed lost in his words. Until the hearing of the woman’s story in the diner, the film appears to be just a long series of tiresome and witless conversations between Stone and Phoenix. Some of it stems from Abe’s lack of likability; he is a sad sack of a man who has given up on life. The film does pick up after the diner incident, but it wasn’t enough to save this movie.
Emma Stone isn’t given much to do, other than worship Abe and hang on his every word. Her character is rather one-dimensional, and while Stone gives it her all, her character never feels real. The Abe character is fleshed out much better than Stone’s, I am not sure that Phoenix fully understood his character, at times it seemed that he was as weary as his character. I would have liked to have Parker Posey do more in the film than just be the oversexed woman who is willing to be a sex partner and possible muse for Abe.
A fair bit of warning; this film is more like Allen’s dramas or mysteries, there is very little comedic elements in this film. There was so much potential with this film but it feels hollow and underdeveloped. It’s as if Allen had an idea for the movie but only wrote one draft, making the story and its characters feeble. My Rating: Bargain Matinee
My movie rating system from Best to Worst: 1). I Would Pay to See it Again 2). Full Price 3). Bargain Matinee 4). Cable 5). You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again
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