How is it possible that this is the first time Parker Posey has worked with Woody Allen? It’s a question for the ages, but the answer to how they finally collaborated came about in a way perfectly suited to the metaphysical questions posed by their film, IRRATIONAL MAN. In it, Allen ponders whether or not the universe is a random place without object or plan, or if there is a synchronicity at work. Posey’s meeting with Allen’s longtime casting director at the Krakow Film Festival, which led to their professional paths finally crossing, may or may not answer the question beyond a reasonable doubt, but it was the first thing I asked Posey when we talked on July 10. 2015. We went on to talk about Allen’s working style, and how it is different from one of Posey’s frequent directors, Hal Hartley, and what it’s like to be hit by the truth. She also averred, in her disarmingly charming way, how frustrating Allen’s dislike for ADR (re-recording sound in a studio) can be, while also comparing directing with choreography.
IRRATIONAL MAN is a film about existential angst, emotional projection, and the difference between motion and progress. Parker plays Rita Richards, a science professor at Bayard University, a small institution of higher learning located in the picturesque seaside of Rhode Island. Her life is one of quiet desperation until the arrival of Abe, played by Joaquin Phoenix, a philosopher staring into the black abyss of a life without meaning because he’s never made his mark on the world. When he arrives to teach a summer class, Rita, packing single-malt scotch and a healthy sexual appetite, sets her sights on running off to Spain with him, while Jill, played by Emma Stone, the perky and intelligent co-ed in Abe’s class, sets HER sights on saving Abe from his despair while also falling for his edgy darkness. Small ethical transgressions lead to unexpected consequences, and the randomness of the universe throws unexpected opportunities, or are they diabolically synchronistic temptations sent to test everyone’s mettle. The film was written and directed by Woody Allen. Posey’s considerable body of work includes the first ever Special Jury Recognition at the Sundance Film Festival for her turn as a Jackie Kennedy obsessed woman in THE HOUSE OF YES, Lex Luthor’s cohort, and biggest fan, Kitty Kowalski in SUPERMAN RETURNS, an unexpectedly complex set of characters in Christopher Guest’s improvised comedies, and the much put-upon character of FAY GRIM in Hal Hartley’s scathingly funny, boldly heroic, and philosophically intrepid trilogy of HENRY FOOL, FAY GRIM, and NED RIFLE.