IRRATIONAL MAN (2015)
written & directed by
[Academy Awards for Woody Allen:
Best Original Screenplay Oscars for Midnight in Paris (2011), Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), Annie Hall (1977) & Best Director Oscar for Annie Hall (1977)]
ENJOYMENT: ***½ (out of 4)
"Thought-provoking dark comedy –
probably appreciated more if you're a diehard Woody Allen fan."
It's that time of year again. Woody Allen has come out with another film. He's made at least one every year for over 45 years and, as you can imagine, some are much better than others. Allen has made masterpieces such as Annie Hall, Crimes and Misdemeanors and Midnight in Paris, and he has made duds such as Shadows and Fog, Anything Else and To Rome with Love. Irrational Man falls somewhere in between. In some ways it's classic Woody Allen, with an obsession about existence, death and morality. Some of the pieces of this film were intricate, thought-provoking, hilarious and unpredictable, and watching the misadventures of the main character, Abe Lucas (Joaquin Phoenix), was entertaining. On the other hand, the acting sometimes felt cheap (as if there was only one take per scene), the screenplay maybe half-baked and the movie felt like it was off of an assembly line. I know a bit about how Woody Allen writes his films, where he literally pulls pieces of paper from a box that he contributes ideas to throughout the year and develops his favorite of them into a screenplay. He also has very little, if any, pushback from producers, and so some films are likely better or worse simply because of his own creative mood or capacity that year. Still, this has always made Woody's films feel more like paintings than movies, and I would argue what has made them so incredible in the past. It has allowed us to get to know this complicated man and see a side of life we may never be exposed to otherwise. Woody Allen is a deeply pensive man and obsessed with philosophy and morality and in that way Irrational Man feels deeply personal. It is not his best and that's okay. However, there was enough wrong with this film that it felt more similar to many of his duds at times. Nonetheless, I've thought about this movie for many days since seeing it and it will be remembered fondly. All I can say is that I liked it, critics mostly did not and you may not either, but maybe it's worth a shot – if that helps.
Other ratings: IMDB (7.1/10), Metacritic (54/100), Rotten Tomatoes (38%)