I liked the simple storytelling, which was augmented by lots of narration from Phoenix and Stone. "Phoenix and Stone" - sounds like figures from fantasy, but no they are the two actors Joaquin and Emma. The week before we saw "Mr. Holmes", which has some of that timeplay storytelling, the narration suddenly shifting to a scene from the past, then back to the present, without any obvious storytelling helpers, like written text "30 years earlier...". "Irrational Man" is strictly linear, I appreciate that for a weekend matinee's entertainment.
There is a lot wrong with the story, but it wasn't hard to sit through. Oy vey, another Allen film about an older man and a much younger woman; why Woody why? Emma Stone seems to be fine with this longtime conceit of girls chasing greybeards; can anybody watch "Manhattan" anymore? I liked that Phoenix has a gut and is not afraid to "dare to be fat", to quote Rootboy Slim. Fat is where it's at.
This idea of committing "the perfect crime" is kind of dated. Professor Phoenix is shown to own a copy of "Crime and Punishment", so we are meant to consider that, but I think the auteur Allen missed a great opportunity by not having his murderer suffer the exquisitely insufferable paranoia that haunts Raskolnikov and makes that book a classic. Professor Phoenix doesn't seem to change his demeanor much after the murder. He even is still giving matter-of-fact voiceover, even up to the point where he is about to be killed - so who is the voiceover telling the story to?
Is there a professor of philosopher in this day who carries a flask and is constantly nipping from it and in all sincerity offer an unsanitary sharing with other grown adults?
We loved the Rhode Island setting, though. Also, Allen's movies always have nice supporting casts, of course nobody is ever asked to act too much, but nevertheless there is a lot of sincere effort. People don't have unfunny dramas in these later Allen films, there's always a lighter side to poison. That helped the straightforward storytelling, though. No scenery chewing rants or fits.
So not a really memorable film, but an acceptable diversion for a weekend matinee.