After watching this four-part docu-series about the longstanding allegations of child abuse levied against Woody Allen for decades, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to see Allen’s face without feeling sick right down to my soul. That’s how much of a powerful and convincing indictment of Allen that directors Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering deliver with this powerhouse of a documentary; it’s a thoughtful, carefully and thoroughly researched indictment of the director himself, the entertainment industry, state and federal government corruption, and , ultimately, the root of all evil: Money. If you can emerge from this with any doubt that Allen is an infuriating, remorseless and unrepentant monster, then you’re made of different stuff than I am because the movie makes it clear that the divide between Allen’s persona as a nervous, affable little fellow could fill the Grand Canyon from his real-life personality, which appears entirely defined by truly breathtaking narcissism and unimaginable, unrelenting cruelty towards the women and girls who have the misfortune of catching his eye. On the other hand, no better picture of Mia Farrow could emerge from this: At all times, Farrow radiates warmth, whip-smart intelligence, thoughtfulness, empathy and, occasionally, totally warranted defensiveness. What Allen has put this woman through (and continues to) is so truculent that it’s like my hair would turn grey overnight if one of my loved ones were put through her ordeal. After sitting through truly horrifying and verified descriptions of the sexual abuse that Allen’s seven-year-old daughter Dylan reports at the hands of her father, it’s impossible to walk away from her on-camera testimonials thinking that she’s being anything less than 100% honest (unless you were already predisposed to it; it’s really just that definitive). It’s not an easy watch but it feels like an important one, because it reminds us that there’s a chasm between persona and personality, and that when there’s smoke, there’s probably fire. In this case, it’s a goddamn forest fire that the entirety of Hollywood chose to ignore, with a number of women paying the price, as usual.
Rating: ★★★★★ (out of 5)