‘Allen v. Farrow’: Docu on 29-year-old sexual abuse case a moral reckoning in the age of #MeToo

It’s extra a case of David and Goliath than “Batman v Superman.” Indeed, whereas the two conflicting events grappling for his or her variations of the reality in HBO’s explosive four-part documentary “Allen v. Farrow” are each Hollywood celebrities, you don’t must be an skilled at rocket science to comprehend simply how highly effective one is in comparison with the different.

We’re speaking about four-time Oscar-winning writer-actor-director Woody Allen (“Annie Hall,” “Manhattan,” “Hannah and Her Sisters”) and his muse-turned-nemesis actress Mia Farrow (“Rosemary’s Baby,” “The Great Gatsby”).

In the ’80s and early ’90s, the fabled couple did 13 movies collectively. Woody, who’s now 85 years previous, has made a movie yearly for 40 straight years, and is now getting ready to shoot his 51st movie—how prolific are you able to get?

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Mia Farrow (proper) with Ronan (left) and Dylan—PHOTO COURTESY OF HBO

Power couple

Woody and Mia had been thought-about a Hollywood energy couple till their 12-year romance (they by no means married and lived in separate homes) started to crumble below the weight of sexual abuse allegations in opposition to the well-loved filmmaker involving Dylan, his then 7-year-old (adopted) daughter with Mia.

The dastardly deed occurred one fateful day in 1992 when Allen, throughout a go to, took Dylan to the attic and allegedly ordered her “to just focus on my brother’s train set” whereas he sexually assaulted her. Thereafter, the “effervescent and outgoing” baby grew to become more and more “shy and withdrawn.”

As it examines the catastrophic results of trauma on a household, “Allen v. Farrow,” helmed with care and unusual perception by the Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated tandem of Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering (“On the Road”), goes behind a long time of sensational headlines to disclose the personal story of one of Tinseltown’s most infamous scandals. But it’s a story that has remained as related now because it was in the ’90s—a cautionary story that performs out like America’s moral reckoning in the age of the #MeToo Movement.

‘Apropos of Nothing’

Woody’s aspect of this sordid story might be gleaned from clips culled from the audiobook model of his 2020 memoir, “Apropos of Nothing.”

The crime docu doesn’t simply look into the surprising custody battle that adopted, it additionally weighs in on the revelation of Woody’s relationship with Soon-Yi Previn, the adopted daughter Mia raised as her personal quickly after Soon-Yi’s organic mother deserted her on the streets of Korea.

Mia and Woody’s relationship really started to unravel after the former discovered raunchy Polaroid pictures of Soon-Yi in Woody’s house. “And they’re not the type you’d see in Playboy,” Mia recalled. “It’s more like [those you’ll see in] Hustler!”

The director mentioned his relationship with Soon-Yi solely started after her first semester in faculty in 1991 when she was 21, however courtroom testimony says it had begun years earlier. In 1997, at age 62, Woody married Soon-Yi, who was then 27 years previous. They have two youngsters.

As the docu’s manufacturing notes aptly describes, the collection “interweaves new investigative work,” meticulously pieced collectively through intimate residence films, courtroom paperwork, police proof, revelatory videotape and never-before-heard audio tapes between Mia and Woody.

After the incident in the attic, Mia recorded Dylan’s recollections in a collection of residence movies taped over a interval of two days as a result of she couldn’t attain her therapist, who was away on vacation.

The movie is much from speculative. In reality, it consists of unique interviews with 76-year-old Mia; Dylan, now 35; and dashing New Yorker journalist Ronan, Mia’s blond-and-blue-eyed organic son with Woody, who’s rumored to have been sired by the actress’ ex-husband Frank Sinatra.

‘Great art, horrible people’

There are additionally revelatory insights shared by household buddy Carly Simon, prosecutor Frank Maco (who discovered “probable cause,” however didn’t need to topic the younger Dylan to additional traumatization from a very public trial), activist Gloria Steinem, kinfolk, investigators, consultants and different firsthand eyewitnesses—many of them talking publicly about the occasions for the first time.

Also featured are prime journalists and movie critics weighing in on the “great art, horrible people” debate, with one rationalizing, “Acknowledging his work increases the power he is able to abuse.”

Likewise mentioned are the points of “transactional access journalism,” which contributes to Hollywood’s “selective morality” (Dylan wrote an article for LA Times asking why Woody has been spared by the #MeToo Movement), and the so-called “parental alienation syndrome,” used to discredit Mia as an unfit mom, portraying her as a substitute as a vindictive associate who concocts a damaging story after discovering out that her lover is in love along with her daughter. Can you get any extra salacious than that?

Another fascinating interviewee in the collection is Christina Englehardt, who was Woody’s “secret” girlfriend for six years—a romance that started when she was a 17-year-old schoolgirl (when Woody was 42).

‘Abusive tyrant’

The scandal divided Mia’s household: Moses, one other adopted son, doesn’t consider the abuse ever occurred, whereas Soon-Yi, now 50, claimed in a no-holds-barred 2018 interview with New York journal that her estranged mom was an “abusive tyrant who beat her with hairbrushes, called her ‘moronic,’ and would hold her upside down ‘because she thought that blood going to my head would make me smarter.’”

Even Hollywood has been polarized by the situation: Woody has discovered “allies” in some of his former actors, together with Diane Keaton (“Annie Hall”), Javier Bardem (“Vicky Cristina Barcelona”), Adrien Brody (“Midnight in Paris”), and even Cate Blanchett (“Blue Jasmine”), who was as soon as quoted as saying that “it’s a family issue that should be resolved privately.”

In distinction, each Selena Gomez and Timothée Chalamet reportedly donated their expertise charges for 2019’s “A Rainy Day in New York” to charity, whereas Colin Firth, Greta Gerwig, Rebecca Hall, Mira Sorvino, Kate Winslet, Reese Witherspoon and Natalie Portman have all denounced Woody and the long-delayed notion of injustice. After all, what makes Woody’s “alleged” crime any much less completely different from these dedicated by Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacy and their ilk?


For his half, it took Ronan a very long time to muster the braveness to ask his sister about that terrible day in 1992—an intimate second between the siblings that ultimately proved cathartic for each.

In 2014, when the Golden Globes gave the Cecil B. DeMille Award to Woody, Ronan mocked the honor with a scathing tweet: “Missed the Woody Allen tribute—did they put the part where a woman publicly confirmed he molested her at age 7 before or after ‘Annie Hall’?”

That gesture of assist, Dylan says in the docu, made her cry as a result of it helped validate what a lot of folks have been making an attempt to dismiss for a very long time—for 29 years, to be precise.

Dylan, who’s now married and with a daughter of her personal, has simply launched her first Young Adult novel (“Hush”). She mentioned spilling her guts for the documentary has allowed her to reclaim some of her self-worth. She’s greater than grateful for the heartwarming bonds of household which have saved her from disintegrating.

“Allen v. Farrow” premieres at 10 a.m. on Feb. 22 solely on HBO (channels 54/168 on SkyCable; channels 53/210 on Cignal) and HBO Go, with a same-day encore at 10 p.m. on HBO. New episodes can be aired subsequent Mondays at the similar time.

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