I hesitate to call this a “comeback” because Roman Polanski, like Woody Allen, never really went away. In Polanski’s case, we know he had sex with a 13-year-old because he pled guilty to doing so in 1977 and later wrote about sleeping with teenage girls in his autobiography. And yet, even with admissions of guilt, and five more recent allegations of sexual assault against children, Polanski has been free to walk to carpets of Cannes and til very recently, has been embraced by the actors whose careers he’s elevated, many of whom have coincidentally had no problem working with Woody Allen either. Remember when Adrien Brody, who got the Oscar for Polanski’s The Pianist, said the allegations against Woody Allen and Roman Polanski are “not something to focus on” because there are bigger problems in the world? When Kate Winslet said last year that she’d had an “extraordinary working experience” with both Allen and Polanski when asked about allegations and later had a teary but still evasive about-face? When Polanski got a standing ovation for winning the Oscar for best director in 2003? When 138 prominent industry characters including Tilda Swinton, Natalie Portman, Wes Anderson, Whoopi Goldberg (and, naturally, Woody Allen) signed a petition in 2009 for the immediate release of Roman Polanski from Swiss custody (from which he was released after ten months of house arrest in his mountain chalet)–and then when he was expelled from the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences as late into the #MeToo movement as this May? When recently-elected Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences Board of Governors member Whoopi Goldberg said it wasn’t “rape-rape” in 2009, and Quentin Tarantino told Howard Stern his 13-year-old victim “wanted” it in 2003 and then apologized when that audio resurfaced in 2018? Hollywood has kinda made it clear that they didn’t really give a shit til they had to.
So here it is: J’Accuse, a Roman Polanski vehicle by Roman Polanski, a film about a French-Jewish soldier who was wrongly accused of espionage in the 1890s and vindicated after five years in a penal colony. Unlike his pre-#MeToo casts which have included Hollywood lifers Johnny Depp, Sigourney Weaver, Ewan McGregor, Harrison Ford, Jodie Foster, and Hugh Grant, the actors attached are primarily French and Belgian, starring (Oscar winner) Jean Dujardin. The film will be produced by the French company Légende Films.
Roman Polanski has called the #MeToo movement “mass hysteria” and compared it to McCarthyism.