I watched Bill Maher Friday night, and was a bit surprised and alarmed by the reaction he offered about the new HBO documentary about Woody Allen and his alleged sexual predation within the Farrow family. I had been familiar of course with the reports of the accusations of child sexual abuse decades ago, along with the twin overlays of the scandal over his affair and eventual marriage with Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter, Soon Yi Previn, and the claims of abuse against the small child Dylan Farrow. I confess that I, like many millions of Americans, took the reports about Allen and sharply discounted them given the press’ paradigm of Mia as a former partner scorned. I chose not to believe the accusations. When Ronan Farrow came out with his own denunciations of Woody Allen a few years ago, I discounted those again, in part because I did not trust the messenger. So I continued to blithely albeit with a slight pause watch new Woody Allen movies without qualms.
When Maher discounted the HBO documentary as only being part of the story, and heavily inflected to Mia Farrow’s side, it stirred a concern and curiosity. Could this be true? Maher argued Friday that the story should be called Mia’s Story and not Allen v Farrow as it did not offer a pretense of adding Woody’s side of the story and defense into the narrative. While I had initially hesitated when the documentary came out, my wife and I resolved to watch the first episode later that Friday night. And it proved to be so disturbing and devastating that we binge watched the remaining three episodes Saturday night, all the way well past our usual bedtime.
I can see that we were all duped by Woody Allen. Bill Maher is dreadfully wrong. The documentary not only gave his the chance to offer his side of the story, as well as other Farrow family witnesses, but it offered viewers the chance to hear Woody’s own words during contemporaneous tapings of phone calls with Mia Farrow, as well as substantial excepts from his 2020 Audio book. The producers developed the show after conducting a three year review of all the police evidence in Connecticut and New York State, a full 360 view of what so many witnesses saw of Allen’s behavior and actions and very damning narratives not only from Mia but from poor Dylan, now almost 30 years older, married and with a daughter, but with a firm and unrelenting determination to use her voice and show what she in fact experienced and went through then and as a result.
The documentary is overwhelming and very very convincing about Allen’s predatory actions. And there are interviews with so many reporters and film critics who contextualize them within a pattern of superficial and constant depravity present in so many of Woody Allen’s movies.
We can not watch another Allen movie, at least while he lives. Perhaps never. And our hearts are broken over what poor Dylan and the rest of the Farrow family went through. We are left stunned and mystified by the sudden reversal of support and solidarity from Moses Farrow, one of the 11 adopted Farrow children and who now as an adult, with a child and ex wife, recently recanted his own constant reinforcement of Dylan’s testimony with an out of the blue claim that he now believes Woody Allen and denounced Mia. No other child has broken from the story nor demonstrated any inconsistency to their narrative except for Soon Yi Previn – Allen, still married to Woody, and Moses Farrow.
I watched this documentary wanting to remain at least a little skeptical of the accusations, but I can not sustain a doubt when none exists. And I am hugely disappointed of Bill Maher, who deliberately or not minimized the significance and resonance of the story of Dylan Farrow and Mia Farrow, and the huge collection of truth included in this devastating documentary.
Watch it yourself and tell me what you believe.