A new philosophy professor arrives on a small town campus near Newport, Rhode Island. His name, Abe Lucas. His reputation : bad. Abe is said to be a womanizer and an alcoholic. But what people do not know is that he is a disillusioned idealist.
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I know, the "Crime and Punishment" thing is tired, but Joaquin Phoenix is a good Raskolnikov, and anyway, what do people expect from a Woody Allen film these days? I suspect that he hardly even works on them personally, that he must have interns to produce "Woody Allen films" based on the template he created, a template that is now, classic Hollywood. This is no masterpiece, but it works just fine. 3 and a half stars
Even at their most dashed off and schematic, there's something appealingly workmanlike and classical about Woody Allen's films. The cinematography by Darius Khondji with its collegiate auburn hues and beachy bright whites is beautiful. Similar themes are explored more fully throughout Allen's filmography, including Crimes and Misdemeanors, but the utter confidence in this film's tonal irregularity is fascinating.
***1/2. Woody Allen seems to go round and round in circles with 'Irrational Man'. It's OK with me to see the same story with different actors every five years when the director is Mr Allen. Recommended.
Certainly Woody Allen has explored this territory before in films such as "Crimes & Misdemeanors" and "Match Point," but here the material - and Allen himself - seem reinvigorated by both the picturesque New England setting and Emma Stone, an actress who is never less than alive on the screen. "Man" offers the realization that, in an earlier era, Stone could have been the quintessential Hitchcock leading lady.
Tread's upon the ground established in Crimes & Misdemeanors, Match Point, and the oft-dismissed yet brilliant Cassandra's Dream. This is an uneccesary and bluntly uninspired outing. Kudos to Stone's wardrobe.
Stone and Phoenix deliver and combine aptly, but Allen's Dostoevsky & Kiekergaard signifiers hold no epiphany other than paraphrased reference. His Raskolnikov fascination (also see: Match Point) is adapted in a fairly laissez-faire manner lacking insight. Maybe some harsh criticism might restore some edge in Allen's fairly derivative recent offerings (Blue Jasmine the exception thanks to the resplendent Blanchett).
Allen's umpteenth version of Dostoevskian existentialism in conjunction with the fiftieth version of the sexual attraction of a girl by an older intellectual, in a brownish without contrasts. A valiant bummer.
A great critique of selfishness, self-pity, narcissism, and intellectual self-masturbation and superiority, where the protagonist tries to justify his existence and worldview by committing the most heinous act: murder. A fine late period Woody Allen film, the dude just keeps on chugging, putting out good work. A great critique of existentialism and overblown morality. In a way, its a critique of all his own work.