Irrational Man (2015)
Cast includes: Joaquin Pheonix (Walk the Line), Emma Stone (The Help), Parker Posey (Superman Returns)
Writer/Director: Woody Allen (Annie Hall)
Genre: Humor | Mystery (95 minutes)
They say, “Abe Lucas was troubled from the beginning…. He could always cloud the issue with words…. But he’s interesting… really interesting.” With Abe joining the faculty of Newport’s Braylon College, the rumor mill’s going strong… “it’s like a Viagra injection for the college… female students are always coming under the spell of some charismatic professor.” Those who have seen him aren’t so positive. They say he “looks wasted.” Rita… the most attractive female faculty member… isn’t put off, even though Abe’s taste for single malt has certainly taken a toll. And his philosophy students worship him because he says the most interesting things, like, “Much of philosophy is verbal masturbation.” Rita tells him, “Students love you, but you’ve raised eyebrows with the faculty.” She’s clearly coming on, but Abe prefers to be a loner.
It comes as a surprise when Abe asks Jill… his prettiest student… to stay after class. “I found your paper quite good… well reasoned and rational.” They seem to be on a similar wavelength as they share their philosophical views. Jill is quite taken with him, even though she and Roy are an item. “He’s brilliant,” she tells Roy. “But he’s a sufferer.” On every topic, she interjects, “Abe says.” Roy’s getting sick of “Abe says,” and asks if she knows the rumors about Abe’s many one-night stands… and “there are rumors about you,” he says. Jill brushes it off… “just friends.” In the meantime, Rita hasn’t given up on Abe. But it turns out that Abe no longer has what it takes… “Orgasm used to be a reliable painkiller.” Can’t get it up, can’t write, can’t breathe! By most accounts, Abe Lucas is washed up. But that doesn’t discourage the most attractive faculty member and the prettiest student from wanting to become muses and fix what needs fixing with the bad-boy-professor with his bad habits and bad behavior.
However, it’s not the ladies who finally turn things around for Abe… it’s finding a purpose… unexpectedly while eavesdropping on total strangers… leading him to the conclusion that he should murder Judge Spangler. While you may have heard that Irrational Man is not one of Woody’s best, it’s an enjoyable hour and a half if you can relate to it. Upon leaving the theater, I noticed that opinions seemed to be split down gender lines, with many men commenting that they hated the movie and didn’t like any of the characters in it. Of course, Woody never intended any of the characters to be likable, and I believe he created a near perfect social Rorschach test. In an overly simplistic analysis, the film showed us a typically female trait of wanting to be appreciated by a charismatic older man and then wanting to nurture him through self-inflicted problems fix what’s broken. It’s a trait that’s infuriating to watch in others, but hard to notice if you’re at the center of this kind of dynamic. “You really are a romantic,” says Jill, even though we can see that’s bunk. What Abe doesn’t realize is that devotion usually has its limits. As you can probably guess, the murder idea isn’t really a winner. “Funny how your best ideas often come when there’s a deadline”… or maybe not.
2 popped kernels
Charismatic has-been professor has the whole campus buzzing
Rated: R (Sexual Content, Crime)
Gender Style: Sensitive
Distribution: Mainstream Limited Release
Tempo: Cruises Comfortably
Visual Style: Nicely Varnished Realism
Nutshell: Professor in mid-life crisis
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Pure Entertainment & Thought Provoking