Irrational Man (2015)

(On Cable TV, July 2016) Every year brings its new low-key Woody Allen film, this one back to the meditative thriller à la Matchpoint. Here, a university professor bored by life find renewed purpose when he decides to kill a deserving stranger, and tries to get away with it despite growing suspicion by a student with whom he’s having a relationship. Directed without fuss and written to include copious amount of philosophical references (with a plot more or less adapted from Dostoevsky’s Crime & Punishment), Irrational Man is the kind of adequate film that Allen has perfected over the years, amusing to watch and generous in allowing actors to inhabit their characters but oddly inconsequential once the credits roll and the story is neatly wrapped. The most noteworthy elements of the movie are the performances: Joaquin Phoenix is good as the anti-hero, while Emma Stone (in her second consecutive Allen film) is serviceable as a curious student. Irrational Man is fine without being exceptional, better than most direct-to-video thrillers while lacking the oomph of more successful criminal dramas.

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