“As in Crimes & Misdemeanors and Match Point, Allen is doing Dostoevsky, although it’s more meaningfully breezy in Irrational Man than ever before, coasting on the waves of its disconcertingly amused protagonist’s psyche. Many will despise the film even for such a concept, and furthermore for Allen again plumbing the Literature section and bringing a classic work to a mainstream American vernacular, kind of like what Disney and Leopold Stokowski did with Stravinsky in Fantasia. Allen has routinely been chided for this, whether it’s being too Bergman-like (Interiors, Another Woman), Felliniesque (Stardust Memories, Celebrity), Chekhovian (September), etc.—as though the essential humanity in these artists’ works is untranslatable. (That the same critics who hate him for such adaptation may adore a filmmaker like Tarantino for his constant reappropriation of earlier pop material says a lot about how we draw distinct boundaries between what we perceive as high and low.) Rather than merely repetitive or even miserable, there’s something romantic about Allen going back to that same well, and it underlines what makes him a crucial artist for today. Rather than stuck in a rut, I see him as a teacher returning to the same handful of classes every year, whose syllabi infrequently change but which can continue to illuminate core concepts and values and aesthetic ideas. That he can still instruct with such wit and coherence, and that he has such great guest speakers to help illustrate the course work, is reason to keep signing up.
~ Michael Koresky On Late Woody Allen