Woody Allen’s career is currently buried in a ditch somewhere between New York and Hollywood, and after Allen v Farrow – a damning and forensic HBO investigation into allegations that he sexually abused his then-adoptive seven-year-old daughter Dylan Farrow – it’s impossible to see a way back for him.
The documentary was made without Allen’s cooperation – he has always denied the accusations about Dylan – and he has attacked it as a “hatchet job” and “shoddy hit piece” coordinated by his former partner Mia Farrow. And in the first of four episodes, directors Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick present us with numerous instances of what many might view as creepy and inappropriate behaviour by the director.
Allen v Farrow is built around the personal testimony of Dylan, who, now aged 35, makes for a credible witness. And the pattern of alleged conduct she and her mother Mia Farrow describe is unsettling. Mia recalls Allen applying sun cream to Dylan in improper fashion while we hear that Allen would get into his bed with his daughter wearing only his underpants. He is portrayed as developing an obsession with her that had went beyond normal family boundaries.
“I was always in his clutches. He was always hunting me,” Dylan says. “I have memories of getting into bed with him … He would just wrap his body around me very intimately.”
“Over time, Dylan went from being outgoing and effervescent and talkative to her having this sadness and this withdrawn quality,” adds Farrow and Allen’s biological son Ronan Farrow, who, as a reporter, helped expose Harvey Weinstein in the New Yorker. “And I didn’t know as a kid how to contextualise that, but now in retrospect I understand that was a pattern of something very serious and alarming.”