Joaquin Phoenix is still one of the best an most interesting actors working today, and Emma Stone, who is just getting better and better is one of the most enjoyable actresses to watch just now. In Irrational Man, Phoenix plays a college professor who is new to the campus where Stone's character studies, although his reputation proceeds him, as students and lecturers alike are abuzz with excitement over his arrival. Men can't figure him out and women cling to him despite his paunch and nonchalance, never mind his unconventional teaching methods in philosophy. What ensues is a friendship between Phoenix and Stone that grows over her affection for him, and by way of a conversation heard in a diner that puts a local judge in poor light because he's in a position to strip a seemingly good mother of the rights to see her children. This puts the movie in familiar territory for anyone who has seen Rope, but also Allen's own Match Point, Love and Death and Crimes and Misdemeanors, where the morality and immorality of murder is discussed. Which puts Phoenix in an interesting position as a philosophy professor with some very frank and matter-of-fact ideas about life and living. And he plays this well, without channeling his director in the way other actors have in the past, but creating a character who is smart, troubled and very inviting. There's a world weariness and a nervous energy in Phoenix that's countered by Stone's wide-eyed optimism and inherently decent qualities, which are traits that she encompasses so very well as an actress. She's easy to get on side with just as Phoenix is always able to invite viewers into the mind of the characters he plays. But it's Allen's script that underwhelms, if not his framing and staging of conversational scenes. Questions and ideas are posed without enough attached to them, although the stakes may be high, the narrative is familiar and one could expect Jessica Fletcher or Columbo to be involved in such a story. Whilst the frequent use of the Ramsey Lewis Trio's The In Crowd has meaning, but not enough purpose in how this become a theme for the movie. Which I quite liked, because I like Murder She Wrote, Columbo and Diagnosis Murder, and that's really the territory Allen is in here. But it's far from his best, although his work-ethic is remarkable, along with the fact that he isn't guilty of missing the mark or making poor movies, even when he's coasting.