Cinestudio Preview: Woody Allen’s “Irrational Man”

SOPHIE GOURLEY ’19
STAFF WRITER
This week’s Cinestudio film preview is for “Irrational Man,” a film written and directed by Woody Allen. The film stars Joaquin Phoenix in the role of Abe Lucas, a recently hired philosophy professor at a fictional liberal arts college in Rhode Island. Abe feels his life has no meaning or direction during the onset of the movie. With an already established negative reputation of being an alcoholic, sleeping with students and having a dreary and self-deprecating outlook, Abe begins his summer job on a low note. However, his temperamental attitude intrigues one of his students, Jill (Emma Stone), as well as a colleague, Rita (Parker Posey).
As the relationship between Jill and Abe develops, his life becomes slightly less dull. However, after eavesdropping on a conversation in a restaurant, in which he hears about the unfair behavior of a judge, he decides to commit a serious crime to bring positivity and vibrancy back into his life, as ironic as that may sound. Movies in which the protagonist suffers from an “existential crisis” are abundant in today’s world, but “Irrational Man” stands out due to the unexpected means in which Abe goes about redefining his life and finding happiness. The unusual plot, paired with renowned actors playing complex characters creates a thoughtful film.
“Irrational Man” first premiered in May of 2015 at the Cannes Film Festival and received a positive response from audiences and critics upon its release. “Hollywood Reporter” critic David Rooney describes the film as “a slinky, jazz-infused existential teaser in which various themes from some of the veteran filmmaker’s most memorable work dovetail into a darkly humorous quasi-thriller explored with a deft lightness of touch.”
In mid-July, the film premiered nationwide and received mixed reviews. However, the cinematography of “Irrational Man,” done by Darius Khondji, was widely appreciated due to the appealing use of color in scenic Newport, Rhode Island where the film was set.
Academy Award winning director Woody Allen combines drama, mystery, and dark comedy to create another creative film. Allen’s fifty-year cinematic career includes several noteworthy films such as “Annie Hall” (1977), “Manhattan” (1979), and “Midnight in Paris” (2011). “Irrational Man” is especially valued by those who admire the work of Woody Allen, since it maintains some of the themes and stylistic choices that appear in his other films.
Allen is and has always been known for his cynical and relationship-oriented sense of filmaking humor; the characters in a Woody Allen movie are often reflections of his own neurotic self.
Michael Newton, of “The Guardian”, summarizes the public opinion of the director by stating that Allen “has made a multitude of small things, comic novellas rather than great novels, pleasurable and rewarding works of art that, without trying to be great, have accumulated greatness, remaining tentative and lovable.” At 79, Allen is still writing and directing films which moviegoers can always count on being something out of the ordinary.
“Irrational Man” will be playing at Trinity College’s Cinestudio from Wednesday, October 13th to Saturday, October 17th.

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