Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone in a scene from the movie Irrational Man.
Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone in a scene from the movie Irrational Man. Entertainment One Films

Movie review: Irrational Man grapples with moral dilemma

IN Woody Allen's latest movie, Irrational Man, Joaquin Phoenix plays Abe, a tormented philosophy teacher who establishes a friendship with smart and bubbly Jill (Emma Stone).

Abe is so consumed by his lack of joy de vivre that he is unable to have a romance with Jill or consummate his affair with married colleague Rita (Parker Posey).

He is utterly depressed, much like some of the characters Woody Allen has played himself in some of his earlier films.

But Phoenix brings a raw masculinity to the role that Allen has never possessed as an actor.

Phoenix also perfectly portrays the kind of man who is attractive to women, for his dramatic flair more than his sex appeal.

It takes a horrific, sublime and utterly crazy idea to do something immoral, but ethically debatable, to revive Abe's soul and will to live.

We won't tell you what the moral dilemma is, but what we can say is that the issue will linger in your mind and will be a topic of discussion afterwards with the person you watch this movie with.

But we must warn you: You may not agree with each other.

An interesting fact about this film is that it marks the return to cinema for actress Sophie von Haselberg, who plays, convincingly, the utterly annoying April.

Von Haselberg's last film was Frankie and Johnny (1991), meaning that she is back to the big screen after a 25-year hiatus.

Writer and director Woody Allen (born Allan Stewart Konigsberg) allows his cast to do a great job, and so does he, but this film is not as brilliant as Annie Hall (1977), Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), or Midnight in Paris (2011).

It is, however, a round, well-made, enjoyable and smart film.

What is missing? Is it the lack of a metropolitan setting? Or is it that Jill is not a troubled woman with existential doubts, but quite the opposite?

Or maybe she's just too nice, and besides all her intention to be radical and transgressive, she is just a girl from the suburbs who dreams to be a punk.

Despite that missing thing, this is still a great film and deserves a good audience.

Irrational Man

Director: Woody Allen

Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone, Parker Posey

Reviewer: Javier Encalada

Verdict: 3.5/5

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