Sony Pictures Classics has released a press kit for Irrational Man, the upcoming film written and directed by Woody Allen. Available on the official site, it digs a lot deeper into the film, with insightful comments from Allen as well as cast members Jamie Blackley, Joaquin Phoenix, Parker Posey and Emma Stone.
There are no big spoilers, but it does talk a lot about the characters and themes so it could be considered minor spoilers. Be warned.
Joaquin Phoenix on his character, Abe Lucas:
Abe is a guy who has always tried to do something positive with his life. He’s gotten involved with political action and traveled to disaster areas around the world trying to help people. But terrible things happen to him and after awhile he starts to feel like nothing he does really makes a difference. And while he has enjoyed teaching in the past, he feels that very few of his students are going to be transformed in any significant way by what they learn in his class. Most will go on to ordinary lives and won’t ever examine life after they pass their last test.
Allen on Abe:
What happens to Abe is that the ugliness and pain of existence and the terrible
frailties of people have worn him down. He feels that he’s a personal failure because he’s never been able to make a mark. He’s just written all these erudite papers that have stimulated other professors and students to talk. But he’s reached a point where he just couldn’t care less about it anymore.
Parker Posey on her character, Rita:
Rita is a woman who feels stifled and trapped. She’s not satisfied teaching; she’s drinking too much, smoking pot, and daydreaming about another life — something more fulfilling and passionate. She’s built up a fantasy about Abe that when he arrived he’d fall in love with her and eventually rescue her.
Allen on Rita:
People must have told her that he’s a dynamic guy who really loves women, so she thinks that he’ll be the one that can get her out of her rat trap. She’s aggressive with him sexually and he is compliant, but he’s not really able to do anything.
Emma Stone on her character, Jill:
Jill is a clean-cut girl who’s always been on the straight path to somewhere, but she really doesn’t know where that is,” says Stone. “She’s been in this small town her whole life, so there’s something that draws her to taking this philosophy course which she hopes will expand her view of the world. And Abe, who is this tortured, poetic artist, is the human equivalent of everything she’s wanted to explore in her life but hasn’t really known how to do on her own.
Allen on Jill:
Abe is a lonely guy and he sees Jill as someone he can talk to. He’s not thinking about her romantically, but he has a serious intellectual connection with Jill which keeps growing until she becomes the person he spends most of his time with.
Jamie Blackley on his character, Roy, Jill’s boyfriend:
The thing that’s really striking about Roy is how patient and understanding he is. From the beginning he’s questioning her interest in Abe, but he puts it in the back of his mind until it becomes an issue and starts getting in the way of their relationship.
We also discover the soundtrack largely features the Ramsay Lewis Trio, and the film is presented in widescreen. Allen also comments on one of his pet themes:
I’m a great believer in the utter meaningless randomness of existence. I was preaching that in Match Point and Abe preaches it in his class. All of existence is just a thing with no rhyme or reason to it. We all live subject to the utter fragile contingency of life. You know, all it takes is a wrong turn on the street…
Lots more cool stuff in the press kit. But it might be worth reading after you’ve seen the film.
Irrational Man opens in New York and Los Angeles 17th July. It will roll out to other cities and countries in the weeks to follow.