After a critical mauling for Roman Polanski, another blacklisted director, Woody Allen, arrived at the Venice Film Festival on Monday with his 50th film.
Sofia Coppola is also returning to the Lido island with her biopic of Elvis Presley’s wife, “Priscilla”, more than a decade after she won festival’s top prize, the Golden Lion.
Allen arrived by gondola ahead of the premiere of “Coup de Chance” (“Stroke of Luck”), his first entirely in French — reflecting the fact that the 87-year-old director is now more popular in Europe than the United States.
He has been effectively blackballed by Hollywood since the MeToo movement due to allegations he molested his adopted daughter in the 1990s, which he says were fabricated by his ex-partner Mia Farrow.
The festival has drawn flak for including Allen and Polanski, who has a child sex conviction and faces other unresolved assault allegations, in its out-of-competition section.
It would be hard for Allen’s film to fare worse than Polanski’s slapstick comedy “The Palace”, which was torn to shreds by critics after its premiere on Saturday, almost universally considered the worst of his career.
Set in a fancy Swiss hotel at the turn of the century, and with jokes that include a dog humping a penguin, critics called “The Palace” a “laughless debacle” (Variety) and “soul-throttlingly crap” (The Telegraph).
“It beggars belief, but, at the age of 90, Polanski may have actually cancelled himself with a film that will probably never see the light of day in any English-speaking countries,” wrote Deadline.
“Coup de Chance” is an altogether more sophisticated affair that fits in the classic Allen mould — a light-hearted dissection of love and infidelity with a beautiful woman at its centre.
– ‘American myth’ –
Meanwhile, Coppola’s “Priscilla” is described as the “unseen side of a great American myth in Elvis and Priscilla’s long courtship and turbulent marriage”.
The real Priscilla Presley was set to join Coppola on the red carpet later on Monday.
The director, daughter of “The Godfather” director Francis Ford Coppola, has a long association with the Venice Film Festival.
She premiered her hit 2003 film “Lost in Translation” at the festival and won the Golden Lion with “Somewhere” in 2010 — controversially awarded by her ex-boyfriend, Quentin Tarantino.
Her new film stars Cailee Spaeny (“Mare of Easttown”) as Priscilla, and Jacob Elordi, famous as the heartthrob in Netflix show “Euphoria”, as the rock’n’roll legend.
“Priscilla” is among 23 films competing for the Golden Lion, to be announced on Saturday.
Frontrunners for awards include “Poor Things”, in which Emma Stone plays a sexually voracious reanimated corpse, and “Maestro”, in which Bradley Cooper transforms into legendary conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein.
David Fincher’s “The Killer”, starring Michael Fassbender as a cold-blooded assassin losing control, and Michael Mann biopic “Ferrari”, were also well-received by critics.
Many of the stars have been unable to attend the festival due to the strike by Hollywood actors and writers, primarily over pay in the streaming era and the potential threat of AI.
Originally published as Woody Allen and Elvis’s wife come to Venice