It was worth more that two and a half, Paul Brynes – it was! Granted, one could still argue it wasn’t a patch on classic Allen – no where near ‘Annie Hall’, ‘Manhattan or, more recently, ‘Midnight in Paris’ and the marvellous Cate Blanchett vehicle, ‘Blue Jasmine’. So the reviewer from the Age is correct in that regard, but still, that rating – well it was miserly for what was nonetheless an amiably entertaining film. But the critic made a point about his distaste for ageing male Hollywood stars playing against much younger actors as their love interest and there’s another case of that here. I concur wholeheartedly with this view. It does get on one’s pip, I must admit. That is not just jealousy speaking – it’s so unrealistic in most cases. But at least it’s not Woody himself as the romantic lead, as in the past on occasion. Emma Stone does a fine job as the more junior of the two ladies who fall in lust with the dissolute Abe Lucas (Joaquin Phoenix), newly arrived on campus as the bad boy of the philosophy department. To give him some credit he did reject the none to subtle advances of the student initially – but that was possibly only because, at that stage, he was struggling with his libido. All that grog wouldn’t have helped. We know he was a dud in the sack because of his impotent display with the older Rita (Parker Posey) – a far more suitable, age-wise if nothing else, match for him. And it has to be said, his colleague’s wife is a far more sensual, interesting woman than Stone’s Jill Pollard.
Phoenix does look as though he’s kinda sleep-walking through his role in this the auteur’s latest. It’s as if life’s party has petered out for his character – that is, until an overheard conversation puts the pep back into his step. He’s contemplating murder you see. There’s renewed vigour in his classroom and bedroom performances – enough to be finally tempted by Jill.
It’s not great, is ‘Irrational Man’, but it’s nowhere near the waste of money Allen at his worst provides. The two women, for my particular dollar, steal proceedings – especially the lustful, lustrous Posey – why on earth don’t we see more of her up there on the big screen? In the end the villain gets his just desserts – both of them. I did feel the climax needed a tad more teasing out – to me it seemed out of kilter with the rest of the offering. In truth, Paul B, I’d give it one more complete star – but you did allow that other critics have been kinder. Even an average Allen, in my view, is far superior to most of the dross Hollywood produces these days. Long may we cherish him, despite all his hang-ups and misdemeanours.
Now how could the Blue Room have resisted a movie entitled, well, ‘The Blue Room’? And yes, a blue room certainly features throughout – but mainly, as well as exceedingly erotically, in the opening scenes. Delphine (Léa Drucker) and Julien ( Mathieu Amalric), both married, escape to this upstairs room to conduct their passionate affair. She hangs a towel out the window when hubby, who works downstairs as a chemist, is absent. Directed by the lead male, he also bucks the trend and places his privates on display – why should it be expected only of the women? What the viewer eventually realises, as the hanky-panky disappears from the screen, is that really the film is a police procedural, for the aforementioned cuckolded chemist has been murdered. Which of the pair did the deed – or were they in collusion? That is the point of the exercise. We learn that neither party are being completely honest with the investigators, or in court, through witnessing the back story – red herrings there are a-plenty. The convoluted evidence presented at the duo’s trial left me completely confused as to how the jury arrived at the verdict they did. But we do know, by the time this is reached, that one of the pair is decidedly out of love/lust with the other – and the direct opposite applies. One decidedly also has a screw loose.
‘The Blue Room’ has enough Frenchiness to keep this customer satisfied. Again, though, as with ‘Irrational Man’, it didn’t completely captivate. I would have been happier if I were as certain as to whom was the guilty party as the members of the public sitting in judgement. However, as it was hard to feel anything for either of the lovers being held for the despicable act, in the end the verdict didn’t matter much. Maybe they both received what they deserved.
I really wouldn’t make it a priority to see either film before their respective runs end, but as for viewing one or both on some other platform – the ‘in’ word these days it seems – one could do a great deal worse, as I have in recent days, than these two offerings.
Official trailer ‘Irrational Man’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hP8mPkyBntw
Official trailer ‘The Blue Room’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieb9AbLl1_k