It's a book that almost didn't come out. In the United States, where Dylan Farrow reiterated in January 2018 his accusations of sexual assault against his father, Woody Allen, the autobiography of the filmmaker first struggled to find a publisher. A year ago, the book was purchased by Hachette. But faced with the sling of dozens of its employees, the publisher has made in extremis his manuscript to the filmmaker become outcast. In March, the director finally signed with a small independent American publisher and this Wednesday, "Either said by the way" is available in French bookstores.
In this 534-page block (Stock Editions, 24.50 euros), Woody Allen does not evade "the Dylan affair". But before delivering his version of the facts at length, he recounts 84 years of personal and professional life, with the sense of rhythm and the irony with which he fed his films. "I've always hated reality, but it's the only place where you can find chicken wings worthy of the name," he said between two confessions.
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The filmmaker first describes his "happy" childhood in Brooklyn, between a mother who loved him unconditionally and a father who swindled with the Mafia and gave him a ticket for his "escapades" in Manhattan. Then he details his beginnings, when, as a teenager, he wrote valves, first for newspapers, then for music hall shows, radio and TV.
At 18, Woody earned three times more money than his parents together ... while consulting a psychoanalyst four times a week. The director explains how he came to hold a camera, he who was only an “illiterate misanthropist” and evokes one by one the films which have marked his career.
A conversation with Fellini, a meeting with Hitchcock ...
But "By the way" is not a film manual. The director sums up his job as follows: "Hiring great actors and leaving them alone, this has always been my big secret for the staging. "I know very well that you have to remove the cover protecting the lens of the camera before filming, but that stops my technical knowledge", he asserts further.
Woody Allen judges his films in a few formulas: "What's up, Pussycat?" "Would be" appalling "," War and Love "," the funniest of his first comedies "," Cursed Aphrodite "" too salacious to (his) taste ", or" Wonder Wheel "his" best film to date " And to object lessons, he prefers tasty anecdotes.
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The filmmaker thus reports a conversation with Fellini, a meeting with Hitchcock, evenings with Hugh Hefner, or the tears of dissatisfaction of Marion Cotillard on the set of "Midnight in Paris". He reports how, after spending a fortune decorating a house on the Atlantic coast, he put the property up for sale after his first night there because he couldn't stand the sound of the waves! Or reveals his "brief love story" and his "brief adventure" with one, then the other sister of his ex Diane Keaton.
The women of his life? As wonderful as it is unstable
About the loves of his life, Woody spares that Soon-Yi, his current wife, "the best of all". He describes if not women as wonderful (at first) as unstable (very quickly): one was "stuffed with medocs" and had "the thigh lighter than a feather", another was "manic-depressive", yet another “bulimic” (Diane Keaton). He himself is portrayed as "rude", "neurotic", "odious asshole", "runaway", "immature and unsuitable foulbrood" or even "claustrophobic, lonely, bitter and incurably pessimistic" ... Do not throw it away.
And then comes the terrible accusation. Woody Allen precedes her with the story of her story with Soon-Yi. Or how the adopted daughter of Mia Farrow, her partner at the time, became "permanent enchantment". The scenario is known: Soon-Yi was 22 years old, Woody, 57, and Mia once discovered erotic pictures of her daughter on her companion's fireplace.
But Woody Allen intends to set the record straight: Soon-Yi was the daughter adopted by Mia Farrow with her previous husband, pianist and conductor André Previn, and he and Mia never lived together. When he fell in love with Soon-Yi, Woody Allen and the actress did not form more than a "couple of frontage".
A portrait of rare violence by Mia Farrow
The filmmaker then paints a portrait of a rare violence of that which he made play in thirteen films. Before arriving at the conclusion that Mia Farrow is "crazy", he explains how his own children Soon-Yi and Moses, but also housekeepers and babysitters explained that Mia physically and psychologically abused her many adopted children. Humiliating one, hitting Soon-Yi with phone calls, forcing another disabled person to wear heavy splints in public, "abandoning" a girl dying of AIDS in hospital, or pushing another to suicide after an argument .
By the way, Woody slips that when his son Ronan Farrow was small, his mother often slept “naked” with him and evoked the “inheritance of dementia” of Mia Farrow, whose brother made prison for pedophilia… For Woody Allen, it is the actress who, in 1992, would have convinced Dylan to accuse him wrongly to take revenge for having been cheated with Soon-Yi. And the filmmaker to tell his truth about the "false assault" that changed his life, while recalling that two investigations by New York police determined that there was no evidence against him.
After this long demonstration, the director poses this chilling observation: "As I do not believe in the afterlife, I really do not see what difference it makes that people remember me as a filmmaker or a pedophile. "I like to make films, but if I stopped making it, I wouldn't mind," swears Woody Allen. I can just write plays. If nobody wants to stage them, I can just write books. "