Director: Woody Allen
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone, Parker Posey and James Blackley
Running Time: 95 minutes
Release Date: September 11th
If anyone has ever wondered what it would be like if Woody Allen had made Breaking Bad, then Irrational Man may just be the answer to that question.
Joaquin Phoenix is the title character, a philosophy professor who has lost all sight of the point, who winds up befriending student Emma Stone. She falls for him, while he romanticises suicide and pontificates on his own aimlessness. The frustration of all of this, for both the characters and audience, lasts until the pair overhear a conversation in a diner, which prompts Phoenix to decide to commit murder.
Allen here has crafted a film about the philosophy of doing bad things, about how chaos rules the universe, and it all plays like a very intentional joke. And while the punchline is undoubtedly the best part, it’s a shame that the set up is as wandering, rhetorical and self-indulgent as a Woody Allen film gets.
Really, there’s just not that much to it. The characters are unlikable, which would be alright if they weren’t so uninteresting. Likewise, the plot never strays from its surface level musings to stray into any territory more compelling than a beginner philosophy class.
Of course, like all bad jokes, it’s entertaining to be drawn in. It’s enjoyable here to guess where it’s going to go, or to imagine what might be the end result. Unfortunately, that’s about the height of it, and once we reach the punchline, we get it but it’s not enough.
Irrational Man is really for Woody Allen lovers only, and maybe those who might, based on the name, thinks it’s some sort of illogical Marvel movie. All in all, there’s very little new being done here, in cinema or even just in Allen’s oeuvre.
Aimless and dissatisfying, Irrational Man is to added to the half of Allen’s work that doesn’t contain Annie Hall and Midnight in Paris. But fortunately, as is often the comfort with one of his films, there’s always next time.