Irrational Man review – Woody Allen revisits familiar territory

The (im)morality of murder has long been a recurrent theme for Woody Allen, from his own bungling Boris anguishing about shooting Napoleon in Love and Death (“he’ll bleed on the carpet”) through Martin Landau’s Judah hiring a hitman to kill his lover in Crimes and Misdemeanors, to Jonathan Rhys Meyers’s Chris turning gunman in Match Point.

This latest straight-faced offering retreads old ground. Joaquin Phoenix is the dissolute philosophy professor who makes an existential decision to commit the perfect crime, rediscovering his libido in the process. From the lazily repetitive use of the Ramsey Lewis trio’s The In Crowd to the naff student/tutor fantasies of its central relationship (Emma Stone is the besotted pupil while Parker Posey draws the short straw as a screechy academic) this is terribly pedestrian. Let’s hope the Amazon deal puts new lead in Allen’s pencil.

Powered by article was written by Mark Kermode, Observer film critic, for The Observer on Sunday 13th September 2015 08.00 Europe/London

Woody Allen on Irrational Man and his murder list – watch the Guardian interview here. © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010