Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a screening of “Irrational Man,” the new film from Woody Allen, but if I were still waiting for the upcoming release I would be as eager and anxious to see it as you might be. Stay eager, but lose your anxiety because the reward for patience will be presented in an entertainingly fresh spin on a comedy/drama thriller. I am a fan of Woody Allen films and his most recent titles of his immense forty-five film filmography are some of my favorites – “Blue Jasmine,” “Midnight in Paris,” Magic in the Moonlight” - and adds “Irrational Man” to my list.
My attention and anticipation were kept on throughout this offbeat thriller that was scripted wonderfully and acted capably by a great ensemble cast. The gloomy eccentric protagonist Professor Abe Lucas, played by Joaquin Phoenix, is a philosophy professor hired to teach a summer session philosophy class at the fictional Braylin College (shot at Salve Regina University in Newport, RI). As the movie opens, Abe’s alcohol fueled, depressive drive to the college is sound tracked by the Ramsey Lewis Trio’s live version of “The In Crowd” and the song is played in many scenes as well as other Lewis tracks. The rhythm of the jazz beats set a tone and its musical ear candy for me in particular as I adore jazz music. “The In Crowd.” adds a sophisticated emotional layer to the film.
Existentialism is played out clearly and carefully as we watch worldly, “sexy Dad-bod” Professor Lucas live out in both past references and presently, what he tries to lecture to his students. Emma Stone plays Jill Pollard, Abe’s “wide eyed,” bright prodigy of his class, who falls into the foreseeable “crush on teacher.” Emma’s performance was predictably noble as her character Jill becomes a heartbreaker to her devoted and gallant young boyfriend Roy, played by Jaime Blackley. Ms. Stone who was also in Allen’s 2014 film “Magic in the Moonlight,” has become one of film’s great actors and as her career carries on I believe she’s going to be awarded for her talent and we’ll be rewarded by her performances. Ironically, Emma Stone’s character in “Magic in the Moonlight” played opposite Colin Firth who describes his character as a “rational man.”
Parker Posey plays Rita Richards, a faculty colleague who also comes down with a Professor Lucas love-jones. Parker delights the audience with her nutty, witty portrayal of the horny unhappily married science professor who very forwardly wins the part of Abe’s drinking and bed friend. Scenes with Rita and Abe were the most comical in “Irrational Man.” Real LOL moments.
Not wanting to spoil the mystery and thriller aspect of the film, I won’t go into more details about the storyline (you can find spoilers elsewhere), but I will disclose how you will fall in love with Rhode Island thanks to the artistic cinematographer Darius Khondi. Khondi, who also gave Allen’s “Magic in the Moonlight” its luscious look, does the same for “Irrational Man” on every frame. The film was shot on location in Newport, Richmond, Cranston, Pawtucket and Providence and does a service for tourism for those towns as I want to book my next vacation there.
You should choose to put “Irrational Man” on your must-see list this summer simply because you’ll enjoy it!
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