Scarlett Johansson’s Awful Defense of Woody Allen and SodaStream
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As a metaphor for alien life, it turns out that the relationship between celebrities and non-celebrities is pretty apt. And you could read the entire film as a parable for the Hollywood star system and the power dynamics of celebrities and their audiences. Johansson's character is literally feeding off poor, stupid mortals like us; but she's also shut out from their – ie our – world, and the tables can turn in an instant. By the end of the film, the hunter has become the hunted.
It's a point that Glazer seems to be deliberately making. He's spoken about how he originally wanted to cast an unknown. But then "the idea landed to put a Hollywood star in disguise and drop them into the real world… the incongruity of Scarlett Johansson in Glasgow… you're already in alien territory."
But it seems a shame that Johansson's strategic break from her more commercial films was to play a character who, for all her alien characteristics, is pretty familiar from her more conventional roles: the voluptuous siren whom men find irresistible. Her, the wonderful, recently released Spike Jonze film which sees Joaquin Phoenix fall in love with a computer operating system played by Johansson, is a much fuller role despite the fact that Johansson never actually appears on screen. "She creates a complex full-bodied character without any body at all," saidVariety's reviewer, Scott Foundas. And it seems to demonstrate that Johansson is a much better actor than she's often given credit for; directors have a habit, as here, of lingering on her face, her body, and failing to give her much of anything else at all.
Her breakout role was playing a version of this in Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation where Bill Murray's washed-up actor character cashes in on his celebrity by making cheesy commercials and bonds with Johansson's ingenue; and she's played similar roles in Girl With a Pearl Earring, and notably, three different Woody Allen movies, Match Point, Scoop andVicky Cristina Barcelona. Allen has gone on record about Johansson's abilities as an actress: how she is "sexually overwhelming"; how she has a "zaftig humidity"; and how he believed that she has the "acting ability to be not just a passing pinup girl but a genuinely meaningful actress". And Johansson has responded in kind by saying that she would be prepared to "sew the hems of his pants if he asked me to".
But last month Dylan Farrow, Allen's estranged daughter, published an open letter in which she accused him of abusing her and condemned the film industry's silence on the matter. In it, she pointed a finger at actors who have worked with Allen, including Johansson. It must have been a very uncomfortable experience being named in the letter, I say. How did you respond to it? "I think it's irresponsible to take a bunch of actors that will have a Google alert on and to suddenly throw their name into a situation that none of us could possibly knowingly comment on. That just feels irresponsible to me."
And what has she made about the backlash against Allen? "I'm unaware that there's been a backlash. I think he'll continue to know what he knows about the situation, and I'm sure the other people involved have their own experience with it. It's not like this is somebody that's been prosecuted and found guilty of something, and you can then go, 'I don't support this lifestyle or whatever.' I mean, it's all guesswork."
So, has it had an impact on her relationship or affection for him? "I don't know anything about it. It would be ridiculous for me to make any kind of assumption one way or the other. "