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Irrational Man

Woody Allen's 2015 drama IRRATIONAL MAN travels a similar path to his terrific "Crimes and Misdemeanors" with less likable characters at its core.

Joaquin Phoenix stars as the heavy drinking, moody, controversial college philosophy professor Abe, who finds himself in a small town and a new college.

Very depressed, he shares his darkness with a romantically interested fellow professor Rita (Parker Posey) and his favorite student Jill (Emma Stone).

Abe is a disillusioned man. After spouting many years of philosophical beliefs, he finds himself shocked with a realization that he (and therefore humanity) has no control over his life, his hopes and his happiness.

Jill (Stone) brings him a different perspective, bringing a youthful exuberance to her world views and constantly trying to pull him out of his funk.

Midway through the film, Abe and Jill overhear a conversation in the booth next to them in a diner. A woman is about to lose custody of her children due solely to a judge's friendship with her loser husband's lawyer.

Abe is energized instantly with the fact that he can change and improve this woman's life...

By murdering the judge.

Since there is virtually no connection between him and the judge or him and the woman, it should be the perfect crime. Right?

What follows is a thoughtful and suspenseful tale of what paths we all choose and the repercussions or our actions.

Phoenix is very good, if in his somewhat typical vein of disconnection, as a man who has spent his entire life teaching students historical philosophy while wrestling with the fact that the foundation of his teachings is potentially just meaningless bullshit.

Stone is terrific and Posey is very strong.

The photography by Darious Khondji (Se7en, Alien: Insurrection) is beautiful and makes the most of every location.

Abe has become impotent literally and in his ability to interact with others. His humanity is fading. Can he rediscover it by murdering a stranger?

Does the good that murder would bring an innocent woman and her children outweigh taking a man's life?

The answers, and Abe and Jill's path through discovery, may not be as easy as they seem.

Irrational and interesting, this tale gets a B.

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