I am here at the Cannes Film Festival this week and filing film reviews of some of the more significant titles on display. If you haven’t already, I highly urge you to check out my colleague Mike Fleming Jr’s sensational in-depth interview with Woody Allen. It opens a whole new window on the unique creative process of this remarkable filmmaker.
This year marked his 45th film as a director with Irrational Man, a dramedy in which a college professor played by Joaquin Phoenix goes off the deep end, personally and professionally. It may not be Annie Hall level, but it is also not at the bottom of the Woody scale either. In fact, it rests somewhere comfortably in the middle — maybe a little higher and comparable to Crimes And Misdemeanors and a little of Match Point. But as I say in my video review above, it has got a lighter touch than the latter. Woody is always well-received in Cannes and was again last week when this, his 12th film in the official lineup, premiered.
Phoenix plays a professor who is at the flame-out stage, not really sure of who he is or what he wants to be. Oddly for such a morose guy he is pursued by one of his students (the wonderful Emma Stone) as well as a bored campus housewife (the equally wonderful Parker Posey). Regarding the latter, Allen said at his Cannes news conference that he always wanted to work with Posey because he liked the idea of calling her name. At any rate, one day he overhears a woman in a restaurant say she would like to kill a judge in her child custody case. For some reason this re-invigorates him on every level and he embarks on a personally chose mission to kill the judge. The film has a few twists and turns from there, but is still pure Woody Allen.
Phoenix is perfect casting as the prof, while Stone is clearly the latest muse for Allen. Posey is also queen of the indies for good reason. Producers are Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum and Edward Walson. Sony Pictures Classics releases stateside on July 17. It premiered in an out-of-competition berth here.
Do you plan to see Irrational Man? Let us know what you think.