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Dylan Farrow’s Voice Rises Above HBO Documentary Series ‘Allen v. Farrow’

The sexual abuse accusations against Woody Allen fall for many into the “what you think you know” category.

On that front, “Allen v. Farrow” corrects a lot of bad impressions, especially when it comes to the decision not to charge Allen with a crime. It’s a harrowing four-part documentary directed by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering that will air on HBO starting Sunday, February 21.

He lays out a formidable case against Allen.

The use of court documents and taped phone conversations between Allen and his former partner and collaborator Mia Farrow is powerful. The same goes for interviews with Farrow and other family members, as well as the prosecutor handling the case.

But nothing in the film is as powerful as the interviews with Dylan Farrow, who accused Allen of sexually assaulting her when she was 7. She has told her story before, in articles she has written for newspapers.

HBO docuseries give Dylan Farrow time to tell his story

Not like this, however. Dick and Ziering take a patient approach to the story – perhaps too patient; docuseries would have more impact with more focus. But it gives Dylan Farrow time to tell the whole story, not just the day of the alleged abuse. but years that preceded it.

And the years since. It’s devastating.

Allen declined to be interviewed for the film, as did his wife, Soon-Yi Previn – Farrow’s adopted daughter whom Allen had an affair with and later married. Instead, the film uses audiobook excerpts from “Apropos of Nothing,” by Allen Memory 2020.

It’s impossible to know what Allen might have said in a new interview. In his memoirs – abandoned by his original publisher – he makes little of himself. In the book, he refutes Dylan and Mia Farrow’s claims about Dylan and Previn. It’s better than nothing, but maybe not for Allen.

The recorded phone calls between Allen and Mia Farrow don’t do her any favors either, though dueling conversations in which either or both recorded each other serve as a chronicle of their deteriorating relationship.

“Reluctant and Anxious”:Why Dylan and Mia Farrow participated in the HBO docuseries

Allen and Mia Farrow never married and maintained separate residences across Central Park from each other. Farrow recounts how they met (Michael Caine introduced her) and their relationship, as well as Allen’s relationship with his children. The bottom line: Allen was excited to date and work with Farrow, and wanted nothing to do with the kids.

that apparently changed with Dylan, that Farrow (and eventually Allen) adopted. Allen from the start was unusually interested in Dylan, say Mia Farrow and others, so much so that Mia Farrow told him to see a clinical psychologist, who found Allen’s behavior “inappropriate”, but not sexual.

Mia Farrow, with her children Ronan Farrow, left, and Dylan Farrow.

Family friends talk about Allen’s apparent obsession with Dylan growing increasingly creepy. Then, on August 4, 1992, Dylan says Allen sexually assaulted her in Farrow’s Connecticut House. A friend told Mia Farrow the next day that a babysitter had seen Allen earlier with his head in Dylan’s lap. Mia Farrow then filmed, for a few days, interviews with Dylan, who spoke about what she said Allen had done to her.

The police quickly get involved. The short version of this part of the saga is that the Yale-New Haven Hospital report on Dylan’s claims exonerated Allen. The report said there were inconsistencies in Dylan’s stories, which Farrow likely dragged her into. Allen gave a press conference outside the hospital.

Why Woody Allen Wasn’t Charged With Sexual Assault Explained

But “Allen v. Farrow” delves deeper into the report and its issues, including multiple interviews with Dylan (which experts say aren’t usually done) and the destruction of notes taken during interviews with Dylan. A judge would later disparage the report.

Connecticut State’s Attorney Frank Maco decided not to prosecute Allen. But not because of lack of evidence — indeed, investigators recommended charging Allen. Maco says in contemporary interviews that he wanted to spare Dylan the pain of testifying in a celebrity trial. Near the end of the film, Maco and Dylan reunite and talk about his decision and how it affected their lives.

We also hear Moses Farrow and Previn’s claims that Mia Farrow was violent. But the filmmakers devote little time to the accusations. The fact that neither Previn nor Moses Farrow accepted interviews no doubt influences this. But so does the film’s point of view – the documentary is firmly in Mia Farrow’s camp and provides hours of reasons why.

The Last Hour looks at the separation of art from artist. Some actors supported Allen against the claims. Others have stopped working with him; some apologized for doing so in the first place.

Dylan Farrow has the last laugh, which seems fitting for the film. What strikes you everywhere is someone is lying, and “Allen v. Farrow” never shy away from building its case on who they are.

How to watch “Allen vs. Farrow”

10 p.m. Arizona time, Sundays on HBO, starting February 21.

Visit the show’s website (www.hbo.com/documentaries/allen-v-farrow) for more details.

Contact Goodykoontz on [email protected]. Facebook: facebook.com/GoodyOnFilm. Twitter: @goodyk.

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