You could almost feel the ground rumble and shift at the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday with the opening-night premiere of Woody Allen’s luminous 1930s Hollywood throwback, “Café Society.” Despite several days of hushed concern over rumored terrorist threats and heightened security measures, all that grim topicality suddenly seemed to evaporate following a fresh round of opining over the allegations of sexual abuse leveled against Allen by his adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow.
The wounds were reopened with an abruptness that caught more of us off-guard than it probably should have. First there was a Hollywood Reporter column written by Farrow’s brother, Ronan, taking entertainment journalists to task for their ongoing silence on the matter; the piece broke shortly before the "Café Society" news conference on Wednesday afternoon. Then the opening-night festivities got off to an almost admirably awkward start, with the French comedian Laurent Lafitte cracking a joke on stage about the director having shot so many of his films in Europe, even though he hadn’t yet been convicted of rape in the U.S.
As Ronan Farrow’s piece argued, quite persuasively, the substance of Dylan Farrow’s accusations deserve to be treated with more than knee-jerk dismissals and smirking frivolity. Still, as unfortunate, attention-grabbing headlines go, the spectacle of this particular scandale once more rearing its head in public was certainly preferable to that of, say, a bomb going off on the red carpet. You couldn’t help but sense the festival heaving a sigh of relief even in the face of its own embarrassment.