Irrational Man

2015, Comedy, 1h 34m

204 Reviews 5,000+ Ratings

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Irrational Man may prove rewarding for the most ardent Joaquin Phoenix fans or Woody Allen apologists, but all others most likely need not apply. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

A tormented philosophy professor (Joaquin Phoenix) considers murdering a corrupt judge to find meaning in his life.

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Critic Reviews for Irrational Man

All Critics (204) | Top Critics (57) | Fresh (95) | Rotten (109)

Audience Reviews for Irrational Man

  • Aug 21, 2016
    Been meaning to watch this one for a while. Glad I finally got around to it. Nothing terribly new for Woody Allen, but entertaining and Emma Stone is always good.
    Nicki M Super Reviewer
  • Aug 19, 2016
    More irascible than Irrational a character and film, Woody Allen's latest puts forth a Man and premise that appeals to thinkers but ultimately ends up to be more of a head scratcher than heady. Come for the philosophical quandaries capitulated by one of cinema's most prolific and thought-provoking filmmakers, stay for the performances. You'd think that Allen, the auteur who already gave us middle age existential crisis and murder mystery aplenty in films ranging from Interiors to Crimes and Misdemeanors to Match Point (among countless others), could deftly combine the two with better results in Irrational Man, a film with an amazing set-up but not enough of the things that make you go Hmmmmm. He tantalizes audiences with the story of a suicidal philosopher who finds meaning and happiness in planning the perfect murder, but the study of the fundamental nature of existence and meaning boils down to Philosophy for Dummies. Just consider the mind-blowing possibilities of a man well steeped in Spinoza's Ethics trying to debate the purpose of and then executing a Thinking Man's homicide based on this pretzel logic. Fascinating, right? Okay, so the main character prefers to Heidegger and Kant to Spinoza but the intellectual enticement remains the same. Sadly, Irrational Man plays out more as a crime and love story than existential tale. We've seen both already from Allen, and done much better. Still, even mediocre work by this writer-director holds more entertainment value and thought provocation than even the best output of some other filmmakers. In this R-rated thriller, a tormented philosophy professor (Phoenix) considers murdering a corrupt judge to find meaning in his life. After nearly 50 films, he still exhibits an almost uncanny mutant ability for making letter-perfect casting choices. On paper, Abe comes off as a troubled man who teaches Advanced Philosophy while himself only operating at a Philosophy 101 level, but a brooding and bloated performance by Joaquin Phoenix betrays a much more complex man. The writing might not make you believe the existential quagmires at stake, but this talented actor nearly sells filmgoers on the bigger picture. Meeting him beat for emotional beat, Emma Stone operates as a moral compass whose candor and sympathetic heart ground this fair-to-middling thriller. Bottom line: Psycho Babel
    Jeff B Super Reviewer
  • Apr 23, 2016
    I enjoyed this. It raised some interesting morality and ethical questions. I may have to see more Woody Allen films based upon how much I enjoyed this.
    Ian W Super Reviewer
  • Mar 19, 2016
    Woody's fourth conscionable killing movie, and well, it does feel a bit rehashed with the age- and power-inappropriate relationship between the cynical, alluring liberal arts professor and the luminous, self-possessed student. The stakes ARE higher in that Abe premeditates a conscionable killing (*SPOILERS: and then a self-serving one), but the whole movie is a lot of pseudo-philosophical talk interspersed by bland narration and not enough humor and heart ("Crimes and Misdemeanor"), fervent sensuality ("Match Point"), or moral conflict ("Cassandra's Dream"). I would have to say there is more physical violence though, which is interesting for Woody. That nearly silent 10-15 second shot of Jill struggling with Abe in front of the open elevator shaft is awkward and disturbing as hell, and Woody is one of the only directors left who allows the audience to feel such raw, unbroken discomfort.
    Alice S Super Reviewer

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