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Review: Irrational Man

Joaquin Phoenix stars in Sony Pictures Classics' "Irrational Man"

Finding inspiration can be tough for those people who are considered to be very artistic and extremely neurotic. To many, it would appear like a great deal of time is being wasted while searching for this extraordinarily specific motivation, but to the one’s doing the looking, time is always of little importance. After all, once it’s found, it can turn the most irrational man rational while calming him down in a way that sanity and relaxation can’t.

In Woody Allen’s Irrational Man, we’re introduced to a man who carries similar traits to those. His name is Abe Lucas (Joaquin Phoenix), and he’s a college professor in search of that kind of inspiration. After taking a job at a college in a small town, this philosophy professor finds an opportunity to do just that after he begins to entertain Jill (Emma Stone), a student of his who is as infatuated with him and his genius as he is with discovering what the next chapter of his existence is supposed to be.

If you’re interested in this, prepare to sit back, relax and not expect to be mentally stimulated by a captivating story or anything that could be considered original. Not only is nothing really original here, you may notice that Woody Allen actually uses Irrational Man to rip off another one of his own movies. I guess adding a slight twist here and there makes it a little different, and maybe that’s acceptable for people who like Woody Allen.

Although Irrational Man could have been a little more original in some ways, there are things that I liked about it. I’m mainly speaking of the actors. Led by Joaquin Phoenix, every significant character starring in this film is fleshed out well and adds something to the picture. This is what actors are supposed to do when they’re professional and take their craft seriously.

When I think about it, these guys carry the movie quite a bit, and it’s them who make the movie bearable. That and seeing how it kind of becomes two different movies makes it more interesting than it should be. Without these factors, you’re talking about a film that could bore people to tears. Even with those additions, Irrational Man still has the possibility to do that depending on your taste as an individual.

There’s also a very organic tone to much of what’s on display here. That’s especially true for scenes including with Parker Posey. Cast in the role of Ann, Posey comes off as a delightful yet sexual older woman with a carnal desire that’s both earnest and hard to hide. Although she’s not the sole love interest for Phoenix’s irrational Abe Lucas, she works well enough to have been the main focus in an alternate version of this movie. You can definitely say that the other actors are great and have more to do, but her character fits right in the middle of the film’s tone.

The rest of Irrational Man is largely forgettable and not worth spending your money on. While I don’t want to discourage people from helping out smaller films, I’m just being honest here. Then again, it’s a very small picture anyway that probably won’t get much attention from people looking for any cinematic entertainment. If for some reason you need to see something from Woody Allen, you would be better off watching Match Point or something. Maybe even some of his work from the 1970’s.

Rating: R

Joaquin Phoenix
Emma Stone
Parker Posey
Jamie Blackley

Film Length: 96 minutes

Release Dates:
July 17, 2015 (Limited)
July 31, 2015 (Wide)

Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

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