Woody Allen greeted by cheers, praise and protests at Venice Film Festival

Woody Allen arrived at Monday's premiere alongside his wife Soon-Yi Previn and his daughters Bechet Allen and Manzie Tio Allen
Woody Allen arrived at Monday's premiere with wife Soon-Yi Previn and daughters Bechet and Manzie

Woody Allen's return to the Venice Film Festival was greeted with cheers and positive reviews from some, but also by loud protests on the red carpet at the premiere of the US director's new film.

Most reviews called Coup De Chance, Allen's first film entirely in French, his best work in a decade.

But scuffles broke out when protestors attempted to get on to the red carpet.

Allen is a controversial figure, having been accused of molesting his daughter Dylan, which he has always denied.

No charges have ever been brought against the star.

The 87-year-old has largely been shunned by Hollywood since the #MeToo movement brought the allegations, which date from the 1990s, back to the fore.

Despite the controversy, he remains a European festival favourite, and received standing ovations and rapturous applause in Venice at the premiere and adjoining press conference.

In an interview with Variety ahead of the festival, the US film-maker said: "I feel if you're going to be cancelled, this is the culture to be cancelled by.

"I just find that all so silly. I don't think about it. I don't know what it means to be cancelled. I know that over the years everything has been the same for me. I make my movies."

'Good fortune'

Allen went on to say he supported #MeToo "where it does something positive".

"I read instances where it's very beneficial, for women," he said, but added: "When it's silly, it's silly."

He stood by previous remarks that he should have been a "poster boy" for the movement, pointing to the amount of "very good parts" he had created for women down the years, as well as equally-paid roles for female crews.

Speaking later at the press conference, Allen added he had been "very lucky my whole life" and "not been held accountable for things I did poorly" in his work.

"I've been very lucky with my film-making," he said. "And I've had, over my lifetime, much undeserved praise and an enormous amount of attention and respect. And so I have nothing but good fortune."

Allen, Luc Besson and Roman Polanski, three directors who have faced sexual assault allegations in the past, have been given spots by the 2023 Venice festival.

'His funniest film in years'

Allen's latest film received positive reviews from critics at the event.

Coup De Chance, or "stroke of luck", stars Lou de Laâge, Valerie Lemercier and Melvil Poupaud in a tale of love, infidelity and death.

In a four-star review, the Times' Kevin Maher called it Allen's "best film in a decade" after a string of "incredibly patchy movies".

The Guardian's Xan Brooks, in a three-star review, wrote: "How Allen continues to conduct his career is obviously his business alone. But if he were ever minded to collect his winnings and quit the table, his 50th feature might be a decent film to go out on."

The Telegraph's Robbie Collin described his latest comedy as "an extended mother-in-law joke" and "his funniest film in years", while also offering three stars.

"An 11th-hour twist allows dumb luck the last laugh, and (in Venice, at least) it brought the house down," wrote the reviewer. "Given his otherwise grim recent form, Allen himself may have simply got lucky with this one, but the charm and sparkle here are real."