Last year I experienced my first ever Woody Allen film in the shape of Magic In The Moonlight. I surprisingly really enjoyed the film, I found it quite refreshing amongst summer blockbusters and superhero epics. Emma Stone also starred in the film like she does here in Irrational Man. I very nearly let this film slip by me but I thought there was definitely a chance I could enjoy it after Magic In The Moonlight.
I’m so glad that I did decide to check it out though as I did have a great time with the film and ended up liking it even more than Magic In The Moonlight. Joaquin Phoenix plays a philosophy lecturer, Abe Lucas, who is struggling to give his life any real meaning. Emma Stone plays, Jill, one of Abe’s enthusiastic and optimistic students. The film focuses on these two characters and there interactions over a term of university. I really connected with the philosophy aspect to the film. Having studied Ethics myself I found a lot of cross over with the content in the movie and found myself being able to identify with many of the discussions. However, fear not if you haven’t studied anything like this before because this is an interesting and engaging subject no matter what your history with it is. If anything I would have actually liked to have seen more class time or at least extended scenes of the already present class time. The film is really easy to watch, the score and soft narration from both Phoenix and Stone is very calming and created a really pleasant atmosphere to watch the story play out.
The leads, and other cast members, perform well. However, in specific the lead characters were never really that likeable but as they are well written and interesting I was always engaged and intrigued with their ideas and decisions. I found this impressive as usually if I don’t like the main characters I struggle to maintain my interest in the story but it actually turned out here that it was an advantage that I didn’t really like them. The romantic elements to the film were never as unbearable as I was expecting, I think this was due to the writing, however, I’ll admit when this element was the sole focus of the film things were quite slow. There is much more to this film than romance though, the trailer is both good and bad in portraying this. I like the fact that it hasn’t revealed too much however I wouldn’t want people to get the wrong impression of the film, I almost did hence potentially thinking of giving it a miss. The extra dimension to the story and film that revolves around Abe’s change of outlook on life was the best thing about the film and made for really interesting viewing in terms of characters responses and decisions. Like the trailer I’m not going to reveal too much either as the unexpected nature of this plot point was a real treat in the film.
Irrational Man has only furthered my interest in Woody Allen and I will be sure to check out some of his previous work now. Phoenix and Stone carry this film wonderfully, acting characters that are well written and always interesting. With elements of philosophy, romance and more the film should appeal to you in some way. It certainly appealed to me and as things unfolded in the film I only became more intrigued. I sense that this could be a hidden gem of this year.
Rating – 8/10