Review: Irrational Man

Irrational Man stars Joaquin Phoenix as an eccentric philosophy professor lost in his own world. Written and directed by Woody Allen and featuring brilliant performances from Phoenix and his co-stars Emma Stone and Parker Posey, Irrational Man brilliantly captures a turbulent man in a quirky and stylised way. It’s witty, it’s dark and it’s different.

Abe Lucas (Joaquin Phoenix) arrives at the fictional New England University of Braylin in the throes of depression, even at times entertaining suicidal thoughts. This contrasts with the expectations students and staff had of him as his wild and interesting reputation preceded his movements. Suffering through despair alcoholism and impotence Abe attempts to bed into his new home as student Jill Pollard (Emma Stone) takes a shine to him, Professor Rita Richards (Parker Posey) does the same though and Abe is left battling against falling into the clichéd and ill-advised teacher-student relationship.

As these new relationships take form and Abe struggles with his low ebb there’s not much signposting as to quite where the film’s going and this wonderful unpredictability definitely makes it stand out from the crowd. (Spoiler here- skip to next paragraph to avoid,) When Abe begins to consider planning a murder, as seen in the trailer, it’s a bolt from the blue for the audience and for many of the films’ characters. Essentially Woody Allen’s writing harnesses the unpredictability of the overly philosophical man suffering an existential crisis. There’s no knowing what he might do as his, at times pretentious, ideas about philosophy, chance and fate take hold.

Irrational Man.jpg

Irrational Man has an unpredictable story, is very well written and contains great performances. It’s short run-time doesn’t hinder it and some of the hallmarks of Woody Allen’s writing shine through, especially in terms of the ending. It’s a highly recommendable film and quite a unique one too.

By George Storr

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