Review: Irrational Man

Woody basks in irrationality


Abe Lucas (Joaquin Phoenix) is just the sort of professor I would've had a crush on at college. Louche, dishevelled, highly-intelligent and dismissive of his conquests as a ladies' man, he even has the temerity to describe the subject he teaches - philosophy - as "pure bulls---" to the new students who hang on his every 20-letter word. Abe's scandalous reputation reaches Brayslin College, Newport, long before he arrives in a cloud of whisky and proceeds to charm another married professor (Parker Posey) and Jill (bewitching Emma Stone) who is in his Ethical Strategies class. Both women had secretly fallen for Abe before they met him and when they do and discover he is totally disillusioned with life, teaching and sex, they vie for the position of muse.

Having tempted you with the beginning of this spicy tale, it's now safe to mention that this is Woody Allen's latest film.

I say "safe" because I clocked the hangdog expressions of my fellow critics as they entered the screening with all their prejudices and preconceived ideas about my favorite director and know some of you may share their views.

One of the biggest gripes seems to be that Woody, who is 80 in November, is so prolific, but for me each new production contains thoughts, observations and moods that reflect my own thinking, sometimes embarrassingly so.

He also manages to get the very best from every carefully selected actor he casts, and Phoenix is a real wow and easily as good in this as he was in The Master. As for Emma Stone, well I can't get enough of her, and the light she brings to the screen clearly appeals to Woody who cast her in Magic in the Moonlight.

Yet it is not her charms or those of Ms Posey that bring Abe back from the brink of self-destruction. Abe's epiphany comes when he overhears a story of injustice and decides he is going to commit a murder (meticulously premeditated as they are in Woody's films) and suddenly he is a changed man.

As a flag-waving member of Allen's fanclub, Irrational Man worked for me and I'm optimistic about what it will do for you.

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