The monster as seen by his victims
If you've been following the New York Times and The New Yorker investigations into the Harvey Weinstein affair, then this documentary, first released in August 2019, probably won’t tell you anything you don’t already know. But what is interesting about Ursula Macfarlane's film is that it gives a voice to the victims of the Hollywood magnate, inviting them to talk in front of the camera. Without wanting to exacerbate the pain of those who have dared to speak out, Untouchable rakes through the life of a man whose disproportionate power reigned over the film industry for decades.
The real interest of the documentary perhaps lies in the lesser-known voices that are finally being heard: the actresses who never even had a career after their run-in with Weinstein, along with his assistants and colleagues - both men and women. Through their stories, we discover the portrait of a man who was as eternally dissatisfied in his work as in his relationships, and who refused to take "no" for an answer.
Alongside actresses Rosanna Arquette and Paz de la Huerta, Hope D'Amore, one of his first victims, recounts how, when he was still only a concert promoter, Weinstein raped her in a hotel room, arguing there was no point in getting angry for something that would only take five minutes of his time. And then history started repeating itself. To date, 93 women have accused Harvey Weinstein of raping or assaulting them. The producer's modus operandi was the same for each them: a hotel room, the threat of destroying a career and ultimately the protection of a dodgy industry that Weinstein held in the palm of his hand for so long.
Dismantling the mechanisms of the Omertà
The revelations of a former employee at Miramax - the production company created by brothers Harvey and Bob Weinstein – show how the producer was not only violent with the women he met, but also with his male collaborators. Described as a tyrant by someone who claims to have "dodged two or three ashtrays", he would see red at the drop of a hat. A former employee of the Weinstein Company in London highlights the ambiguity of the man: “He generated an energy. We felt like we were at the centre of the universe with him.” Their words reveal a manipulative, yet insecure, man.
While the very classic mise-en-scene of the film might put you off - a succession of interviews facing the camera coupled with archive images and reconstructions of scenes - the importance of its stories cannot be denied. The chilling words of the victims are told to the Times journalists Megan Twoley and Johdi Kantor, who have long held crucial information on the producer without being able to publish it. Interviews with Ronan Farrow (Woody Allen's son) and Ken Auleta of the New Yorkeralso reveal the immense reach of the producer’s power, which silenced all who knew what was going on. Untouchable is therefore essential viewing: first and foremost to hear the victims of this terrifying tycoon speak out and then to acknowledge their suffering, which happened in silence for far too long.
Untouchable, by Ursula Macfarlane, available on OCS since March 25th 2020.