Editor’s Note: Irrational Man will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on January 12, 2016.
Irrational Man (Sony Home Entertainment), directed by Woody Allen, is set on the campus of Braylin College in Rhode Island. Abe Lucas (Joaquin Phoenix) is a philosophy professor whose arrival creates a stir among both faculty and student body because of Lucas’ notorious reputation for heavy drinking and womanizing. He soon finds himself the romantic target of married science professor Rita Richards (Parker Posey) as he simultaneously tries to handle a platonic relationship with student Jill Pollard (Emma Stone), who is smitten with him.
These romantic complications do little to ease Lucas’ personal crisis, which has rendered him drunk, depressed and impotent. When he overhears an unhappy woman complaining about the vindictive judge in her custody battle, Lucas quietly begins to plan the perfect murder, which has an immediate re-energizing effect on the down-in-the-dumps, burned out teacher.
Director Allen has had uneven results in his last several films. Irrational Man has the flavor of Crimes and Misdemeanors with a touch of Match Point tossed in for good measure. Phoenix is a good choice for the lead. He looks like a guy who’s hit rock bottom, winding up at a small college as a last grasp at respectable academia. His hedonistic lifestyle having caught up with him, he goes through the motions until the idea of murder sparks a flame. Leading ladies Posey and Stone are both first-rate and portray two different kinds of women with one thing in common — their fascination with Abe Lucas.
The movie isn’t packed with gags, and is more drama than comedy, though the Allen humor frequently shines through. With a nod to Dostoyevsky, Allen explores the non-criminal mind getting psyched by the danger and cunning of surreptitiously plotting murder. Woody Allen has evolved into a filmmaker who is unafraid to branch out and take chances. Often, his efforts are disappointing, but Irrational Man presents an interesting character study, underscored by a dark plot.
Bonus extras on the Blu-ray edition include the featurette “On the Red Carpet: Los Angeles Film Premiere” and a photo gallery. A digital HD copy is included.