Irrational Man (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Woody Allen|
|Written by||Woody Allen|
|Edited by||Alisa Lepselter|
|Distributed by||Sony Pictures Classics|
|Box office||$27.4 million|
The film was released on July 17, 2015, by Sony Pictures Classics in a limited release, later expanding wider. The film was the last produced by Jack Rollins, who had produced Allen's films since the 1980s, before his death in June 2015.
It is an existential murder mystery – starring Joaquin Phoenix as the protagonist who is a washed-up professor and Emma Stone as a student who falls for her professor.
At the small-town fictional New England college campus of Braylin, philosophy professor Abe Lucas (Joaquin Phoenix) is experiencing an existential crisis. He is depressed, sees no meaning in his life, and drinks excessively. Despite this, he immediately catches the eye of two women: chemistry professor Rita Richards (Parker Posey), and Jill Pollard (Emma Stone), one of his students. Jill has a serious boyfriend and lives with her parents. Rita lives with her husband, but is dissatisfied with her marriage. Abe chooses to sleep with Rita but is careful to have only a platonic relationship with Jill. Abe's depression becomes even more apparent when he fails to have an erection during his first sexual experience with Rita.
At lunch, Abe and Jill overhear a conversation; a woman says she will lose her children in a custody battle because of a seemingly unethical judge in family court. Abe is troubled by the injustice and, without telling Jill, decides to help the woman by murdering the judge. Abe reasons he's unlikely to be caught because he isn't involved in the case and, therefore, won't be suspected. Abe steals a key to the college's chemistry lab from Rita where he procures cyanide. He then discovers one of the judge's routines: a morning jog followed by sipping a cup of orange juice on a park bench. Abe puts the poison in an identical cup and exchanges the cups surreptitiously while the judge is reading a newspaper. The Judge subsequently dies from cyanide poisoning. Abe feels reborn. He tells himself that he has finally done something worthwhile with his life by ridding the world of one evil man. Consequently, his mood improves dramatically. Abe and Jill's friendship blossoms into a romance. Jill's boyfriend, Roy (Jamie Blackley), eventually learns of the relationship with Abe and breaks up with her.
Despite Abe's careful planning, Jill and Rita, who are friendly, begin to suspect Abe's involvement in the murder after piecing together a few clues, such as the missing key and Abe's unexpected presence in the chemistry lab where a student spotted him. Rita decides that even if he is guilty, she wants to leave her husband and live with Abe in Europe.
Consumed with curiosity, Jill enters Abe's house through an open window while he's out and finds incriminating notes. Jill confronts Abe and accuses him of the murder. Abe then admits his guilt and explains his motive. Jill decides to break off their relationship but promises not to turn him in. However, after an innocent man is accused of the crime, she presses Abe to go to the police, warning him that otherwise she will report him. Abe, who has only recently started enjoying life, is determined to stay out of jail. He attempts to kill Jill by pushing her into an elevator shaft, but, instead, he stumbles backward and falls down the shaft to his death. Jill then begins repairing her life. Her first step is to reconcile with Roy.
The film ends with Jill gazing out to sea while standing on a beach and reflecting on her experiences with Abe.
- Joaquin Phoenix as Abe Lucas
- Emma Stone as Jill Pollard
- Parker Posey as Rita Richards
- Jamie Blackley as Roy
- Betsey Aidem as Mrs. Pollard, Jill's mother
- Ethan Phillips as Mr. Pollard, Jill's father
- Sophie von Haselberg as April
- Ben Rosenfield as April's friend
- Meredith Hagner as April’s friend
- Susan Pourfar as Carol
- Brigette Lundy-Paine as Braylin Student
On May 2, 2014, it was announced that Woody Allen would write and direct an upcoming film in which Joaquin Phoenix would star. On May 6, Emma Stone joined the cast, marking her second film collaboration with Allen, as she previously co-starred in Allen's romantic comedy Magic in the Moonlight in 2014. On July 24, Parker Posey and Jamie Blackley also joined the cast of the film, which Allen produced along with his sister Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum. On January 29, 2015, Sony Pictures Classics acquired the distribution rights to the film and revealed the title to be Irrational Man.
On January 29, 2015, it was announced Sony Pictures Classics had acquired all distribution rights to the film, marking it the eighth Woody Allen film to be released by Classics. The film had its world premiere on May 16, 2015, at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. The film began a limited release on July 17, 2015, and later a wide release on August 7, 2015.
Irrational Man received mixed reviews from critics. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film scored a 46% approval rating, based on 176 reviews, with a rating average of 5.4/10. The site's consensus read: "Irrational Man may prove rewarding for the most ardent Joaquin Phoenix fans or Woody Allen apologists, but all others most likely need not apply." On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating, the film scored 53 out of 100, based on 43 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
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