• Lynn Neumann

Review: "Irrational Man"

"Irrational Man" is a murder mystery fashioned in the style of many Hitchcock films, though it’s as much about the predatory nature of human beings as it is about the hope and longing for something more. Its characters strive to overcome their selfish actions, and at times they succeed.

The main conflict is presented with Joaquin Phoenix’s character, Abe. He is tormented at the notion of his productively slipping until he becomes obsessed with an idea that forms the basis for his resolve to exist feverishly.

It’s as though there’s an obsessive need for Allen to create the same familiar patterns in hopes it will eventually give him a breakthrough to something new. I can think of few better ways to murder creativity than to create in this way. Like many of Allen’s other films, this one seems to celebrate philosophical perspectives on love and death while at the same time portraying an ambivalent vision of them.

Much of the scenic design and lighting in Allen’s films are warm and inviting, with tones that provide a uniquely charming atmosphere to everything, such as the scenes of romantic grander seen in Midnight in Paris. In Irrational Man, the balance of light, angles and lines of composition provide an impression of naturalism. Characters appear consequential, as they occupy much of the frame. References to philosophical concepts of thinkers such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Kierkegaard fizzle throughout the dialogue.

The scenario is typical for an Allen film, with the ending being expected. It all feels very uninspired. I can certainly understand that, in any field, after working your way upwards with ideas and dedication, it can become tempting to stop trying. Many creative people arrive at that point without ever having had a fresh idea in their lives. If I wanted to pump out a generic film script every week, I would be physically capable of doing so, but the mental aspect of that would prevent me.

Not only can I not stand the idea of filling up the world with more tasteless creation, but also the idea that I need to turn off my brain and not care very much about what it is I’m making. Allen has a reputation of being able to turn out a new film practically every year. He’s clearly capable of not being critical of himself, and at times I’ve had the impression from various works of his that his typing was outstripping his thoughts.

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