Woody Allen used to make funny movies. Once in a while he makes magical movies, like Midnight in Paris. Then he makes movies like Irrational Man. Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone get the bulk of the screen time and share narrator duties as we switch from one point of view to another. Irrational Man is a very workmanlike film. Woody knows how to make movies now and he goes through the motions here.
The story features a depressed philosophy professor at a small college. He is a little soft around the middle and projects an air of sorrow everywhere he goes. So naturally, two women throw themselves at him the moment his bags are unpacked. One is a woman close to his own age, a fellow teacher at the college. The other is a student who finds his deep brooding irresistible. Both women are already in relationships and both leave their partners in favor of the moody philosopher.
About half way through the standard college story, our hero is out on a date with the student and they overhear a woman talking about how unfair life is and how she is being cheated by the justice system and one judge in particular. The Professor decides to do something about it.
This decision brings our hero back to life. He finds that he can write again, make love again, do deep research again, teach with passion again. He stalks the Judge and there are several tense moments as he puts his plan into action.
The rest of the film is about his young lover’s reaction to what he has done. This leads him to decided that he has to do something about her as well. The ending is a bit shocking and a nice twist in the tale. There was room for even one more twist, but I guess Woody decided not to push his luck.
Irrational Man looked good, the acting was good, and the music was interesting. It was not one of Woody’s better films, but then, I didn’t like Blue Jasmine and Cate Blanchett won an Oscar for her role in that film.