Since Manhattan in 1979, Woody Allen has presented no less than twelve films Out of Competition at the Festival de Cannes. The last time he came to the festival in 2011, Midnight in Paris was the opening film. This time round, it's Irrational Man, the story of a Philosophy teacher battling with doubt, an "irrational man" portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix.
Film still © RR
Once in a while will not hurt; after his worldwide tour of large cities (London, Barcelona, Paris, Rome), the director from New York has filmed in a university in the countryside. The simple surroundings of this small town host a more complex intrigue, that comes to life around Joaquin Phoenix (Abe Lucas) who is losing confidence.
Allen has chosen Emma Stone and Parker Posey to sow the seeds of existential and emotional doubt in the mind of the Philosophy teacher that he portrays. After Magic in the Moonlight, Woody Allen's last film, Emma Stone (Jill Pollard) is back to play the role of confidante and brilliant student. Parker Posey (Rita Richard), who is after the same man, plays one of his lonely colleagues, who is neglected by her partner.
Woody Allen admits to having been seduced by philosophy since he first started making films. He has willingly explored related themes in films like Love and Death, Crimes and Misdemeanors and Match Point. "Ever since I was a kid, I can't explain why, I have been attracted by what people generally call "great existential questions". This fascination also lies in the discovery of Ingmar Bergman's works when he was a teenager, the depth of which was a reflection of thinkers not yet known to the young Woody Allen (Nietzsche, Kierkegaard). Since then, the tortured film-maker has not stopped nourishing this passion for philosophy in his filmography.