Woody Allen’s latest release sits in a space between romance, mystery and drama in this film about a professor of philosophy seeking existential refreshment.
Joaquin Phoenix stars as Abe, the alcoholic and bored academic, with Emma Stone as Jill, a keen student of philosophy who develops a relationship with her professor – who is also having an affair with fellow professor Rita (played by Parker Posey).
The film opens with Jill, an intelligent and curious young student, in a relationship with appropriate young student Roy, who is fun but a little square compared to slightly overweight and mysterious professor Abe, who arrives to teach at this college with a reputation of philosophical originality and social controversy. Jill’s academic crush on Abe intensifies as their relationship changes, while Professor Rita is also looking to escape the sexual boredom of her marriage by beginning an affair with him.
Midway through the movie, however, the story takes a turn. After overhearing a conversation between strangers in a coffee shop, Abe decides to make a life-changing decision, and the film twists more towards a soft drama. The ending is the best part, but the pace change that leads to this point could have come a little more quickly.
If you decide to watch this film, you must watch it until the end. Joaquin Phoenix is terrific as the lead but it is Emma Stone that shines in this one. Her performance lights up the screen and any scene without her is waiting patiently for her reappearance.
Woody Allen fans will enjoy this film but perhaps not as much as some of his other works. Although it is visually pretty and only 95 minutes, the film stretches out a little with heavy emphasis on the dialogue, and the twist is an unexpected, amusing and welcome point of interest.
Irrational Man is in cinemas 20th August.
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