director: Woody Allen
writer: Woody Allen
starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone and Parker Posey
genre: Comedy | Crime | Romance
released: 7 August 2015 (USA), 20 August 2015 (Australia)
Woody Allen still has the magic touch so late in the game and his films are always a great choice for some good late night entertainment. And while his films might be too intellectual and possibly bland for most. They are still a pay grade above the rest in delivering a story that is meaningful, enticing and enjoyable.
A depressed and intellectual philosophy writer fails to find a purpose in life and has faint thoughts of ceasing his existence. Overall, lacking the drive to properly teach, write his novels or even be in love. However, while out with one of his philosophy students at a diner. A miraculous event will occur, where he will finally find the inspiration to live and to be devious.
The last few films of Woody Allen haven't gone down that well with general audiences but also with his trusted fans. With his films being generally considered lackluster and falling into that same period of time of the early 2000's where people just didn't regard Woody Allen at all for his work and thought that the fire was almost but extinguished. However, as I've always stated. This seems reasonable when you make a film every year and when almost every other great director paces themselves for the perfect project. Woody Allen though believes he should never stop working and gives his best every time no matter the result.
In his latest film, he once more goes down the path of the many what if's life has. With a person taking a dark path that could be considered invigorating in how that would change them for the better and how more interestingly enough, how that person would justify it. As well as the story being told with a semi comedic tone. Not only to feel a little different than his other great dramatic murder thrillers, but also to stray away even further from the film's direct influence of Dostoyevsky 'Crime and Punishment'. That is also referred to in the film and has many elements in common between them.
What additionally makes the film interesting to watch are the late career choices of Woody Allen to change his story setting with every film, the character archetypes and the endless possibilities where such a comedic thriller may turn to. Here he has his main character turn into a meticulous criminal which is one thing, but its even more intriguing when that person is a philosophy professor and writer that can justify his actions through morality and finds a purpose for living through it. It's also interesting when his counterparts is a student who can retort his theories/actions and also a fellow professor who wants to escape mediocrity and feel the same spice of life again as him.
Moreover, having the skill and talent of the acting trio of Phoenix, Stone and Posey results in a fun comedic thriller that its twists and turns may not be equivalent to an intense crime novel, but are intriguing in that they can bring a smile to your face and are smart enough to go along with. It would be even better if this film is seen without seeing the trailer. As I have no idea if it reveals its twist from starting out as a standardized romantic comedy and then turning into a tantalizing crime comedy. Generally it should be enough that Woody Allen made this film for you to see it. But in this day and age I find it difficult that most will even know who he is or even have seen any of his work.
Nonetheless, his personal touch in storytelling and directing can't be praised enough. No matter if his works don't always result in perfection. His stories usually are about people going through common difficulties in life and sometimes radical changes that we would never live, think about or take into account. Such as here SPOILERS... a hardcore philosophy writer finding no reason to live until he finds purpose through murder and the murder of a unethical person. A direction I did not foresee, but was pleasantly thrilled by.
I would suggest for this film to be seen without knowing much about it, except that it is a casual film that will leave you pleasantly surprised and entertained. Which is the bear minimum we should ask for in any film.