For Reel

Irrational Man (2015)
August 7, 2015, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Woody Allen
3.5 Stars
Irrational ManIn Magic in the Moonlight, Colin Firth played a pompous braggart who took exception to the work of a perky young spiritualist played by Emma Stone. It was a pitting of Firth’s intellectualism against Stone’s admittedly mystical, but moreover emotional relationship with the world. Similarly, Irrational Man casts Joaquin Phoenix as a philosophy professor who uses a detached, intellectual rationalization to justify his plotting of the perfect murder, whereas Stone realizes that the world is slightly more complex than such hypothetical rationales. The worldview of insulated academics is not new to Woody Allen, but Irrational Man is another fitting chapter in the extraordinary anthology that is his film career, furthering the impotence of his self-obsessed narcissists and instead relying on his sentimental side, exemplified by the naive, essentially good Stone. Even when half-asleep, Phoenix is an intense, unique performer, and one largely unfamiliar to Allen’s recent works. He’s far from a stand-in for the director himself–he doesn’t joke about his insecurities and various dissatisfactions, but rather is driven further into despair and egotism. Some of the dialogue is on the nose and the repetition of The Ramsey Lewis Trio’s “The ‘In’ Crowd” reaches the point of parody, but Irrational Man is a satisfying continuation in Allen’s contemplation of a divided self, a rivalry between the intellectual and the emotional/practical.