Earlier this week, we told you about an essay written by Woody Allen’s estranged son Ronan Farrow in which Farrow accuses the media of protecting Allen from charges of child sexual abuse levied by his now-grown sister, Dylan Farrow. The essay, which ran in The Hollywood Reporter, came at an opportune time: Right in between an interview with Allen in which the 80-year-old filmmaker paints himself as the Henry Higgins to his wife/stepdaughter Soon-Yi Previn’s Eliza Doolittle—right down to the condescending attitude—and the opening-night premiere of Allen’s new movie, Cafe Society, at Cannes.
Speaking of which: Although Cannes has had a reputation for sticking by directors who have been accused of sex crimes—Roman Polanski attended the festival as recently as 2014—French comedian Laurent Lafitte couldn’t resist making a jab at Allen’s (and Polanski’s) expense at the premiere last night. “You’ve shot so many of your films here in Europe and yet in the U.S. you haven’t even been convicted of rape,” Lafitte said to Allen, provoking “gasps” from the crowd.
All of which demanded a response from the normally reticent Allen, who, if any of his recent interviews are to be believed, lives in a world where ragtime is still all the rage and marrying your common-law stepdaughter merely a paternal gesture. As reported in Rolling Stone, when asked about Farrow’s essay, Allen told assembled reporters that “I never read anything about me, these interviews I do, anything … I have moved so far past it. I never think about it. I work. I said I was never going to comment on it again. I said everything I have to say about it.”
He went on to paint Farrow’s essay as a mere distraction from the important work of making increasingly uninspiring romantic comedies. “Forget about all that. Just work. It’s worked for me. I’ve been very productive over the years by not thinking about myself,” he said. “I don’t like to hear that a critic thinks my film is a masterpiece and I don’t like to hear that a critic thinks my film misses.” Never mind that Farrow is Allen’s son, not a film critic, and that we’re talking about allegations of child molestation, not a movie review.
Jokes are fine, though: “I am completely in favor of comedians making any jokes they want,” Allen said of Lafitte’s barb at his expense. “I am a non-judgmental or [non]-censorship person on jokes. I’m a comic myself and I feel they should be free to make whatever jokes they want.” You heard him, comics. Go for it.