Woody Allen's latest ruminates on questions and ideas he has expressed far better in films like "Love & Death" and "Crimes & Misdemeanors". His themes are the same old questions of meaning of life and what motivates us to action. His voice this time is represented by Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone.
Mr. Phoenix plays an philosophy professor at a small college in Newport Rhode Island. Ms. Stone is one of his students who falls for him, even though he is an alcoholic, overweight and depressed. Parker Posey plays another professor, married but lonely who also becomes involved with Mr. Phoenix. The cast work very well together and do a good job expressing Mr. Allen's ideas.
The first half of the film is dialog heavy as Mr. Allen sets up the plot twist that turns the story. Newport is a lovely setting and the score, mostly Ramsey Lewis, is infectious. Things pick up rapidly in the second half and play out to a logical and what some would think, a surprising conclusion. It's entertaining enough but Mr. Allen doesn't have anything new to say.