Ongoing attention for Woody Allen: 5
Fairness of life to Mia Farrow: 0
Woody Allen couldn't be a child molester. He's so neurotic and self-deprecating, so ineffectual, never malevolent. He couldn't be hiding a dark secret. He wouldn't last five minutes with a secret like that before becoming so overcome by his own anxieties, he'd blurt it out to his shrink or his waiter or a barely legal ingenue. No way, not Woody.
So then Dylan Farrow must have made up the allegations against her adoptive father. Or maybe jilted ex-lover Mia Farrow coaxed her into it? These are some of the accusations made by Allen supporters in the almost 30 years since the alleged incident occurred and the subject of three years' research by award-winning investigative documentary-makers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering. For the four-part series Allen v. Farrow, they were granted access to boxes of legal documents as well as audio and video recordings that make a pretty convincing case against Allen and had previously been kept out of the public arena.
It was in the wake of #metoo that Dylan spoke out again about the sexual assault and it's clear in the documentary how completely the culture has changed in its treatment of women since then. Mia Farrow's life and career were ripped apart by the smear campaign that Allen launched against her, calling her hysterical, vindictive and self-serving. If she was, she had good reason to be: her boyfriend and co-parent had begun an immoral sexual relationship with her daughter, who was 10 when he first appeared in her life and yet somehow he managed to convince the world that there was nothing even slightly off about it. Allen's career flourished, while Farrow's perished.
Of course he denies the allegations and this week has publicly called the documentary series "a hatchet job riddled with falsehoods". Unfortunately, the downfall of this otherwise comprehensive series is that they were unable to get Allen, his wife Soon-Yi or even one person close to them to be interviewed and, of course, this leaves the film-makers wide open to criticism from Allen's many staunch supporters. As we've seen over and over again in recent years, it's almost impossible to change people's minds once they're made up. The truth is whatever one chooses to believe and Allen v. Farrow is unlikely to convince anyone who's already been poisoned against Farrow.
Allen is an old man now, 85, and I'm certain he'll deny the allegations all the way to the grave. Who knows, maybe he's telling the truth about Mia Farrow. Maybe she was an evil vindictive bitch and neglectful mother. That really doesn't matter though. The only thing that matters is what happened to Dylan.
In the story of the slowly dissolving reputation of Woody Allen, this new documentary surely represents the end: the final and complete erasure from the canon of Allen's brilliant films in which, in retrospect, an unusually large number of middle-aged men have relationships with much younger girls.
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Hollywood royalty, Farrow and Allen bestrode Manhattan through the 1980s and into the early 1990s before Farrow found pornographic pictures Allen had taken of her daughter Soon-Yi Previn, who he had seduced one night after showing her an artsy movie in his screening room.
The documentary's most powerful moment - its headline-grabber - comes when we are shown the video Mia Farrow shot of her daughter Dylan, aged 7, accusing Allen of sexual abuse. This video, never before seen publicly, has been the epicentre of the firestorm, now nearly 30 years old, about whether or not Allen sexually abused Dylan. He refutes it, saying, among other things, that she was coached on what to say by her mother.
Aside from the interviews with Mia Farrow, Dylan Farrow, Ronan Farrow and many others in and around the Farrow family, the documentary is rich with Farrow home video footage, recordings of Farrow-Allen phone calls and other rich primary resources. Aside from the absence of Allen or anyone speaking for him, the overall feeling is one of great rigour and completeness.
Allen's thoughts and feelings are represented almost entirely through excerpts from the Audiobook of his memoir Apropos of Nothing, which was published by Arcade Publishing last year amid much controversy and a staff walkout at original publisher Hachette.
Where does Allen go from here? Now 85, roundly condemned by many of the big-name actors who once starred in his films, too toxic for anyone with a reputation to touch, he doesn't really have much left except his denials.
Allen, Allen, Allen. It's all we ever talk about. One of Mia Farrow's children is now married to her ex-partner, another has accused that ex-partner of sexual abuse, another has taken his side against their mother, two more are dead. When you start a family, you expect the unexpected but you also expect the unexpected to have some limits. May God help Mia Farrow and her children: it seems no one else will.
Allen v Farrow episode 1 is available now on Neon and Sky Go.