Thursday, August 13, 2015

Woody Allen: 'Irrational Man' (2015)

Through the scrim of an entertaining little story, Woody Allen's Irrational Man (2015) covers the basics of existentialist philosophy. This movie is more dramatic than comedic, but given its setting in academia (specifically here, a fictional college in Rhode Island), there's plenty of fun to be made on that score. There always is.
Enter the Nutty Visiting Philosophy Professor (played with some restraint by Joaquin Phoenix, though seeing him in action often inspires chuckles no matter what he does or says). Take his ennui, combine with a yearning for Spain in another professor (Parker Posey, also smile-inducing), add a curiosity-driven student (Emma Stone), connect with a Dostoyevsky-inspired triggering moment, and presto -- that's the basic set-up. Let the fun begin. 
 Wanna get existential? You betcha!
An added bonus: connect cleverly embedded references in Woody Allen's Irrational Man with William Barrett's nonfiction work, Irrational Man: A Study in Existential Philosophy (Anchor Books, 1990; originally published by Doubleday in 1958). 

By the way, I still have a fifth avatar of this book, having given away four other copies over the years.
The beautiful thing about existentialism is that -- like the concept of karma -- it works with or without a religious framework. That is to say, you can be an agnostic, a Catholic, an atheist or whatever else, and its ideas still apply, so long as one believes in the core ideas of free will and choice. 

Today's Rune: Partnership. 


Charles Gramlich said...

Jaochim phoenix shows restraint? Wow

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Any mention of Camus and I am catapulted back to high school English class, when I considered myself to be a rather big deal. I may just need to watch this movie.