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Irrational Man


Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone, Parker Posey, Jamie Blackley

Director: Woody Allen

Occasionally sluggish but overall enjoyable, this year's Woody Allen movie stars Phoenix as Abe Lucas, a university philosophy professor experiencing burnout both in life and in his efforts to finish a book.

Straight-A student Jill (Stone) immediately falls under the new teacher's spell (though he looks far from charismatic to us) and ditches her boyfriend Roy (Blackley, reminiscent of a very young James Stewart) to pursue the hard-drinking prof, who's also a target for Rita (Posey) a fellow academic unhappy in her marriage).

Still, Abe remains unable to commit emotionally. 'He had no zest for life,' declared Jill's voiceover, 'no joy, no clear reason for living.'

None, that is, until a chance overheard conversation in a diner, from a woman whose custody of her children is being threatened by a corrupt judge. Abe decides to eliminate the errant justice by planning the perfect murder.

No one can write dialogue quite like Allen, and you can almost hear the little maestro speaking the lines in that uniquely plaintive, angst-ridden voice. Phoenix, of course, brings another dimension to the role, that of physicality and, if the climax, involving his attempt to commit a second murder, is a trifle unbelievable, it does provide a fitting wrap-up to the tall story.

David Quinlan

USA 2015. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Technicolor/Prints by FotoKem.
96 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 07 Sep 2015