Irrational Man (film)

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Irrational Man
Irrational Man (film) poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byWoody Allen
Produced by
Written byWoody Allen
CinematographyDarius Khondji
Edited byAlisa Lepselter
  • Gravier Productions
  • Perdido Productions
Distributed bySony Pictures Classics
Release date
  • May 16, 2015 (2015-05-16) (Cannes)
  • July 17, 2015 (2015-07-17) (United States)
Running time
95 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$11 million[2]
Box office$27.4 million[3]

Irrational Man is a 2015 American crime mystery drama film written and directed by Woody Allen, and starring Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone, Parker Posey and Jamie Blackley. The film was released on July 17, 2015, by Sony Pictures Classics in a limited release, later expanding wider.


Philosophy professor Abe Lucas joins the faculty at the small-town New England college campus of Braylin. Abe 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, and Jill Pollard, 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 cannot get 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 an 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 is unlikely to be caught because he does not know the judge. Having found a new purpose in life, Abe's depression is lifted. He becomes happier and is able to have sex with Rita. Abe steals a key to the college's chemistry lab from Rita where he procures cyanide. He then puts the poison in a beverage holder identical to the one being used by the judge and switches the juices while the judge is preoccupied. The judge dies from cyanide poisoning. Abe feels reborn, telling himself that he has finally done something worthwhile by ridding the world of an evil man. Abe and Jill's friendship blossoms into a romance. Jill's boyfriend Roy 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 a window while he is 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. 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 prison. 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. The film ends with Jill, who has reconciled with Roy, gazing out to sea while standing on a beach and reflecting on her experiences with Abe.



On May 2, 2014, it was announced that Woody Allen would write and direct an upcoming film in which Joaquin Phoenix would star.[4] 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.[5] 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.[6]

Principal photography began on July 7, 2014 in Newport, Rhode Island, and lasted until the end of August.[7] Crews were spotted filming outside at The Fastnet Pub in Newport.[8][9]

The film was the last produced by Jack Rollins, who had produced Allen's films since the beginning of his filmmaking career in the late 1960s, before his death in June 2015.[10]


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.[11] The film's first trailer was released on April 29, 2015.[12]

The film had its world premiere on May 16, 2015, at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.[13] The film began a limited release on July 17, 2015,[14] and later a wide release on August 7, 2015.[15]


Irrational Man received mixed reviews from critics. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film scored a 47% approval rating, based on 201 reviews, with a rating average of 5.56/10. 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."[16] On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating, the film scored 53 out of 100, based on 43 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[17]

The film grossed $27.4 million worldwide at the box office.[3]


  1. ^ "IRRATIONAL MAN (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. August 10, 2015. Retrieved August 11, 2015.
  2. ^ "Indies earn 2.0B for Year after Slow Summer" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on January 12, 2017. Retrieved October 5, 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Irrational Man (2015)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  4. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (May 2, 2014). "Joaquin Phoenix Set For Starring Role In Next Woody Allen Movie". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 8, 2014.
  5. ^ Kroll, Justin (May 6, 2014). "Emma Stone Joins Joaquin Phoenix in Woody Allen's Next Film". Variety. Retrieved July 8, 2014.
  6. ^ Kroll, Justin (July 24, 2014). "Parker Posey and Jamie Blackley Join Woody Allen's Next Film". Variety. Retrieved July 28, 2014.
  7. ^ "Woody Allen Film in RI Begins Production". July 7, 2014. Retrieved July 8, 2014.
  8. ^ Squires, Frieda (July 7, 2014). "Woody Allen project filming in Newport". The Providence Journal. Retrieved July 8, 2014.
  9. ^ Goldstein, Meredith; Shanahan, Mark (July 8, 2014). "Emma Stone stays in Rhode Island for Woody Allen film". The Boston Globe. Retrieved July 8, 2014.
  10. ^ Gerard, Jeremy. "Jack Rollins, Producer Who Made Woody Allen & Letterman Laugh, Dies At 100". Deadline Hollywood.
  11. ^ Dave McNary. "Sony Classics Buys Woody Allen's 'Irrational Man' for North America". Variety.
  12. ^ Alexandra Sifferlin (April 29, 2015). "Watch the Trailer for Woody Allen Film, Emma Stone and Joaquin Phoenix". Time. Retrieved May 18, 2015.
  13. ^ Scott Foundas (May 6, 2015). "Irrational Man Review: Woody And Joaquin Plot The Perfect Murder". Variety. Retrieved May 18, 2015.
  14. ^ Maane Khatchatourian (April 11, 2015). "Emma Stone in Woody Allen's Irrational Man". Variety. Retrieved May 18, 2015.
  15. ^ Brian Brooks. "'Mr. Holmes' Dominates, 'Irrational Man' Debut Solid: Specialty B.O." Deadline Hollywood.
  16. ^ "Irrational Man (2015)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved July 7, 2020.
  17. ^ "Irrational Man reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved September 10, 2015.

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