Woody Allen goes out with a whimper

'Rifkin's Festival' won't be Woody Allen's last movie. But it might as well be.

Woody Allen.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Getty Images, iStock, IMP Awards)

What's it like watching a movie in a meaningless void? That's both a question that might be posed within a Woody Allen movie, and one prompted by his new-ish film, Rifkin's Festival. It sneaks into limited and streaming release this Friday, a year-plus after its international release in fall 2020; in Manhattan, it is currently booked on one screen. This is a marked contrast to just four or five years ago, when a movie like Café Society would receive careful platform releases, and play on Allen's go-to New York screens for months.

The difference-maker, of course, is the renewed allegation that Allen sexually abused his daughter Dylan, who he adopted with Mia Farrow. The allegation was first made 30 years ago and, on a strictly legal basis, was resolved when charges against Allen were not pursued. But, of course, to hear from a victim directly, as the world did when Dylan Farrow broke her public silence on the matter in 2013, is quite different from reading secondhand accounts in the news, where the abuse allegation was initially tangled up with custody battles and Allen's creepy-but-not-illegal affair with his girlfriend's daughter. With the #MeToo movement giving national attention to many long-overlooked instances of sexual abuse, questions about Allen's past lingered, rather than dissipating as they had in the past.

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Jesse Hassenger

Jesse Hassenger's film and culture criticism has appeared in The Onion's A.V. Club, Brooklyn Magazine, and Men's Journal online, among others. He lives in Brooklyn, where he also writes fiction, edits textbooks, and helps run SportsAlcohol.com, a pop culture blog and podcast.