Early on in Irrational Man
, Woody Allen
’s latest half-narcotized attempt to dramatically grapple with a philosophically tinged moral crisis, a fellow academic tells Abe Lucas (Joaquin Phoenix
), “I loved your essay on situational ethics.” Abe, being a newly appointed professor/radical free thinker to the philosophy department of a picturesque Rhode Island college and himself awash in career disillusionment and an existential dilemma involving writer’s block, smiles and nods appreciatively and noncommittally. However, the audience may consider the Big Theme bell well and truly rung. Allen, who would never be so satisfied with a single easy proclamation of achievement, pads the first half of the movie with apparently awe-inspired compliments from fellow professors, administrators and students directed toward Abe’s prodigious intellect—his reputation doth well precede him, and he knows it. And you can bet that every classroom scene will be occasion to name-drop the heavy hitters-- Kant!