In Woody Allen’s new film, a professor of philosophy finds himself in an existential crisis until he meet the young student Jill and starts doing very irrational things.
Woody Allen’s films can only live, breathe, and move because of their dialogue. The character’s interior life is laid out on the table. Nuances are rare and questions almost never remain open. The Allen Principle works best when the script is sharp-witted, smart, and funny. If the plot carries absolutely no weight, though, it comes out like SCOOP or MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT which can be called “nice” at best.
This is why every new Woody Allen film is a risk which his many fans are willing to take. It is unclear if they will take a liking to IRRATIONAL MAN, though. Allen deals with moral boundaries of human nature much like in his oft-praised MATCH POINT. In a completely rational way at first. Protagonist (and the filmmaker’s alter ego) Abe Lucas is a philosophy professor. The celebrated academic is new to the college in Newport. The bachelor is fawned over by his colleagues and young student Jill Pollard is also attracted to his genius mind. Abe, however, is in a deep existential crisis and whiskey is his only friend till he begins having an affair with Jill and starts getting irrational ideas, that is.
Allen is not trying anything different than his previous work with the film which premiered in the Cannes competition section. The dialogues between the professor and his muse are pointed and the actors fit the parts. Yet the spark doesn’t quite ignite in IRRATIONAL MAN. Whereas MATCH POINT was insidiously tense the story here is not believable. Holes in its logic are concealed by Allen’s constantly chattering characters. When they are silent and the curtains are drawn, not much lingers behind.
Translation: Elinor Lewy
USA 2015, 96 min
Genre: Drama, Comedy, Thriller
Director: Woody Allen
Author: Woody Allen
DOP: Darius Khondji
Montage: Alisa Lepselter
Distributor: Warner Bros. GmbH
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone, Parker Posey
- OV Original version
- OmU Original with German subtitles
- OmeU Original with English subtitles
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