ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Rhode Island Murder Mystery: Irrational Man

Updated on January 17, 2016
Source

Abe Lucas is a respected philosophy professor with a lot of baggage. He drinks a lot, thinks little of his fellow professors, and has displayed questionable conduct outside the classroom. However, his reputation as an educator gets him a position at tiny Braylin College in Rhode Island in Irrational Man. Abe (Joaquin Phoenix) shares the bleakest views of mankind with his students. One day, he asks student Jill Pollard (Emma Stone) to stay after class to discuss a paper she wrote, challenging his views. As a result, he starts to grow an interest in Jill and in student activities, which he had never done at any other school. One night, at a student party, he even behaves dangerously when he takes a gun another student found. The incident changes him as he becomes more energetic, and he becomes involved with Jill. However, she already has a boyfriend in Roy (Jamie Blackley), while Abe somehow managed to make friends with fellow Braylin professor Rita Richards (Parker Posey), a married woman whose husband is often not home.

Abe's newfound enthusiasm toward life grows stronger when he and Jill overhear a conversation while having lunch in a restaurant. A woman at the table next to them shares her concerns she'll lose custody of her children because she can't afford many more delays granted her ex-husband by the court. When the woman mentions the judge by name, Abe starts to believe that the world would be better off without the judge. With no connection to the judge, Abe believes he can commit a perfect murder. He learns the judge's habits, and using Rita's lab key, he grabs some cyanide. Abe knows the judge orders orange juice from a certain restaurant, and gets a similar juice cup, which he laces with the poison. Abe switches the cups while the judge isn't looking, and the judge dies. An autopsy quickly discovers the poison. Talk circulates around the campus about the death, and Abe says things that lead Jill to wonder if he did this. She learns more that confirms her suspicion, and urges Abe to surrender when another man gets charged with the murder. Abe tells Jill he will while secretly making other plans.

I'm one of those Woody Allen followers who looks at releases like Irrational Man and remembers earlier Allen films that are related, but much better. In this case, both Manhattan Murder Mystery and Crimes And Misdemeanors fit the description. In Manhattan Murder Mystery, Woody and others in his apartment (especially Diane Keaton) start to think a neighbor killed his wife. In Crimes And Misdemeanors, a woman dies at the hands of her married lover while the man attempts to cover his tracks while police investigate the crime. Both of these films have a better sense of suspense, storytelling, and even humor than the very predictable and very humorless Irrational Man. Allen, who also wrote this script, gives away the ending with Jill's opening narration. Also, these characters and their problems aren't very interesting. Abe has established himself as irritating and arrogant, so I don't see why Jill or Rita would want much to do with Abe off campus. When Jill becomes involved with Abe, Roy should have dumped her instead of pining for her and accepting that their relationship was non-exclusive. Max Fischer, in his days at Rushmore, did better work with familiar material than Allen does here.

I feel sorry for the actors who came out and gave a good effort, in spite of the drivel Allen has given them. Phoenix has a good transformation from anti-social to homicidal as he loves the thought of being a silent force of justice who can't stay silent. He has an ego that demands his day and his way. Stone seems to be Allen's muse du jour, and does fine as a student swept up in the illusion Abe presents. Jill is the daughter of Braylin educators (Betsy Aidem and Ethan Phillips) who encourage Jill in her music lessons, they engage her in theories on the judge's death. Those family moments are the ones that break the overall bleakness of the film. Posey and Blackley are effective in roles that are primarily thankless.

Irrational Man sets a new low in works created by Woody Allen. The acting remains strong, but the story of a self-centered professor and the women who care about him never engaged me in a good way. This film continues the recent trend where Allen recycles his old work, and the recycling here shows its obvious weaknesses. Most of Allen's movies since Sweet And Lowdown have been entertaining, but story elements in most of them serve as a reminder to his followers of earlier and better efforts of his. Irrational Man comes just two years after one of his best films of recent years, Blue Jasmine. The results have been diminishing since then. I'm hoping there's at least one more great film in Allen, but Irrational Man makes me wonder if there's another film that's even decent left in him.

On a scale of zero to four stars, I give Irrational Man 1.5 stars. A film that makes no sense.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      Pat Mills 

      2 years ago from East Chicago, Indiana

      Thanks Gary. I'm not sure that directors challenge themselves any more or less these days, but this film is not the way to create a work with an unlikeable leading character.

    • Gary Malmberg profile image

      Gary Malmberg 

      2 years ago from Concon, Chile

      Solids reasons for finding a better way to spend a couple of hours. Is it me, or are there more and more movies coming out with unlikable leading characters? Anyway, I really enjoyed your take on this.

    • profile imageAUTHOR

      Pat Mills 

      3 years ago from East Chicago, Indiana

      Actually, Mel, Woody & Diane's last movie together was Manhattan Murder Mystery in 1993. This is one to skip, unless you're a hardcore Woody Allen fan or a fan of one of the lead actors. Thanks for visiting.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      3 years ago from San Diego California

      I can't believe Woody Allen and Diane Keaton are still going. Nice review, but I think I will skip this film.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)