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Irrational Man (2015)

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A tormented philosophy professor finds a will to live when he commits an existential act.

Director:

Woody Allen

Writer:

Woody Allen
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4,003 ( 8)
2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Joaquin Phoenix ... Abe Lucas
Emma Stone ... Jill Pollard
Joe Stapleton ... Professor
Nancy Carroll Nancy Carroll ... Professor
Allison Gallerani Allison Gallerani ... Braylin Student
Brigette Lundy-Paine ... Braylin Student
Katelyn Semer Katelyn Semer ... Braylin Student
Betsy Aidem ... Jill's Mother
Ethan Phillips ... Jill's Father
Jamie Blackley ... Roy
Leah Anderson Leah Anderson ... Student Giving Directions
Paula Plum ... College President
Nancy Giles Nancy Giles ... President's Assistant
Henry Stram Henry Stram ... Cocktail Party Guest
Geoff Schuppert ... Cocktail Party Guest
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Storyline

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. Since he has become aware of his inability to change the world, he has indeed been living in a state of deep nihilism and arrogant desperation. In class, he only goes through the motions and outside he drinks too much. But as far as sex is concerned, he is just a shadow of himself now: depression is not synonymous with Viagra! For all that, he can't help being attracted to one of his students, pretty and bright Jill Pollard. He enters into a relationship with her which remains platonic, even if Jill would not say no to more. The situation remains unchanged for a while until, one day, in a diner, Abe and Jill surprise a conversation that will change the course of their lives dramatically... Written by Guy Bellinger

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some language and sexual content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

7 August 2015 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Untitled Woody Allen Project See more »

Filming Locations:

Rhode Island, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$11,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$175,312, 19 July 2015, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$4,027,764, 30 October 2015
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the book "Start to Finish: Woody Allen and the Art of Moviemaking" long-time Allen chronicler Eric Lax shadowed him through the making of Irrational Man (2015). He writes that Allen doesn't rehearse or prepare. He does the minimum number of takes and camera setups, never does reshoots, and likes to be finished by six every evening. He barely gives his actors any instructions at all [The Guardian, Feb.2018]. See more »

Goofs

When Judge Spangler plays bridge with his friends, all four men sit at a table with their cards in their hands. In the bidding part of bridge, all four players keep their cards in their hands. One hand is "dummy" during play. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Abe: [narrating] Kant said human reason is troubled by questions that it cannot dismiss, but also cannot answer. Okay, so, what are we talking about here? Morality? Choice? The randomness of life? Aesthetics? Murder?
Jill: I think Abe was crazy from the beginning. Was it from stress? Was it anger? Was he disgusted by what he saw as life's never-ending suffering? Or was he simply bored by the meaninglessness of day-to-day existence? He was so damn interesting. And different. And a good talker. ...
[...]
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Connections

References Strangers on a Train (1951) See more »

Soundtracks

Prelude & Fugue No. 2 in C Minor
Composed by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performed by Bernard Roberts
Courtesy of Naxos of America, Inc.
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User Reviews

 
Nothing Irrational About Woody
25 October 2015 | by JohnnyWeissmullerSee all my reviews

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.


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