Earlier today I mentioned that the basic plot of Woody Allen‘s Irrational Man (Sony Pictures Classics, 7.24), about a 40ish college professor (Joaquin Phoenix) having it off with one of his students (Emma Stone), is sure to reactivate discussions about Allen’s personal history. The subject is actually reactivated now with an excerpt from Mariel Hemingway‘s new book, “Out Came The Sun,” being kicked around. Hemingway was 16 when she played Allen’s 17 year-old girlfriend in Manhattan (’79), but when she was 18, she writes, the 44 year-old Allen invited her to come to Paris with him.
Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone in Woody Allen’s Irrational Man (Sony Pictures Classics, 7.24)
Woody Allen, Mariel Hemingway in Manhattan (’79).
That was a bit on the sleazy side, agreed, but it wasn’t that bad as Allen made the offer with the full knowledge of her parents, who “lightly” encouraged her to go. If a middle-aged guy wants to make a play for a significantly younger woman, the decent thing, I feel, is to wait until she’s 21 or 22. Then again Woody and Mariel had a certain levitational bond over having brought their very best game to Manhattan, and Woody, I’m assuming, was probably channeling the usual X-factor rationale about exceptional people living by their own rules.
Yesterday’s Salon contributor Erin Keane wrote that Hemingway’s revelation “demands we look unflinchingly at the reality that Manhattan so artfully disguised as art, and see it for what it truly is. Woody Allen is a genius. Woody Allen is a predator. He put those two sides of himself together, hand in hand, and dared us to applaud.”
Doesn’t “predator” allude to a compulsive behavior pattern, or certainly something more than a one-off? Keane also says that the idea of an 18 year-old being romantically entwined with a 40-something boss is “theoretically disgusting.” Well, okay, but not entirely. It was unseemly for the 44 year-old Allen to try and get something going, I agree, and yet the 18 year-old Hemingway was of legal age. As it happened she said no and everyone moved on.