I have to say, I just LOVED “Irrational Man”! Woody Allen’s latest just sent me out of the theater with wings on my heels! Woody has done it again! And not only that, it’s not just an older man/younger woman (Joaquim Phoenix/Emma Stone)love story, but something much more, well, Hitchcockian, and he’s written a humdinger of a juicy part for Queen of the Indies, Parker Posey that very well may net her her first Oscar Nomination.
This is after the literally HUNDREDS of Indie films she’s starred in, always gracing them with her funny/perceptive presence. Here she goes to town with the role of the drunken Rita, a college chemistry professor who is literally the campus tramp. throwing herself with nutty abandon at every new man on the faculty. Jill does this with Joaquim’s EXTREMELY depressed guest Philosophy prof Abe Lucas. He is only in town( Newport, Rhode Island never looked more beautiful! Cinematography by ace Darius Khondji.)for the summer, so Jill wastes no time in snaring him. Abe resists her at first, but it’s no use. Who can resist Parker Posey when she’s in full throttle vamp mode?
She forms the unusual (for Allen) third point of a quirky love triangle. This time being an age-appropriate love object for Phoenix’s suicidal professor, who plays Russian roulette for real, and thinks nothing of it.
The students, main among them Emma Stone’s Jill, is horrified and of course attracted to him. Sparks fly and I must say both Stone and Phoenix and also Posey, have never been better.
But the story is much more than that. It’s also, to my mystery-obsessed mind a whodunit. Or suspense thriller, when Stone and Phoenix overhear a random terrible conversation in a Newport diner (pictured above ^), it prompts Phoenix to go off the deep end in a way I’m not going to spoil here. But it’s very Patricia Highsmith (yes, her again! She’s everywhere this summer!) and begins to resemble her Hitchcock movie “Strangers on a Train” as well as Hitchcock’s favorite film “Shadow of a Doubt” with a little of Highsmith’s masterpiece “The Talented Mr. Ripley” thrown in! No, I’m not kidding!
Of course, it’s also awfully funny and his three stars are all at the top of their various, varied games! And all I have to say is, don’t let anyone spoil the twists and turns of Woody’s delicious plot. It’s his best film since “Midnight in Paris” and I think will be just as successful because it’s genuinely entertaining.
After another major mis-fire “Magic in the Moonlight” and the disappointing dud”To Rome, With Love”, “Irrational Man” really is a tremendous comeback, a relief. And a joy. There’s nothing like a good Woody Allen film! When he’s good, he’s very, very good, and when he’s bad Cate Blanchett wins an Oscar..
This is all very good news for Parker Posey, and maybe Joaquim Phoneix and Emma Stone, too.
The Academy tends to nominate and award actors in this films. Especially in the Supporting Actress category. So kudos to Parker Posey and everyone else connected with this daffy, dark delight!