Woody Allen’s 50th film as a director, Coup de Chance, got an enthusiastic reception Monday night at its Venice Film Festival premiere. The 87-year-old filmmaker was cheered to his feet as the credits came down on his French thriller, which co-stars Lou de Laage, Valerie Lemercier, Melvil Poupaud and Niels Schneider. The warm standing ovation lasted five minutes, with Allen and his cast waving and bowing from the grand balcony of Venice’s Sala Grande cinema.
Outside the theater earlier in the evening the situation was very different, however. A group of protesters demonstrated against what they called the “rape culture” of the Venice festival and marched past the cinema’s entrance just as Allen was walking down the red carpet. The protestors, which numbered about 20 people, shouted slogans including “no rape culture” and “we are speaking for those without a voice against the director rapists.” The Venice Film Festival has come under fire this year for including films from directors accused of sexual assault, including Allen and Roman Polanski, whose new film The Palace screened over the weekend.
Coup de Chance is about the important role chance and luck play in our lives. The story follows Fanny (de Laage) and Jean (Poupaud), who look like the ideal married couple — both professionally accomplished, they live in a gorgeous apartment in an exclusive neighborhood of Paris, and they seem to be in love just as much as they were when they first met. But when Fanny accidentally bumps into Alain (Schneider), a former high school classmate, she’s swept off her feet. They soon see each other again and get closer and closer.
Earlier in the day at the Venice press conference, Allen was asked to reflect on the role luck — or the absence of it — has played in his own life.
“I’ve been very, very lucky my whole life,” Allen said. “I had two loving parents. I have good friends. I have a wonderful wife and marriage and children — and I’ve never been in the hospital. I’ve never had anything terrible happen to me.”
He continued: “And I’ve had — over my lifetime — much-undeserved praise and an enormous amount of attention and respect. And so, I’ve had nothing but, you know, good fortune. And I hope it holds out.”
“Of course, it’s still early this afternoon,” Allen quipped.
Over the past several years, in the wake of the #MeToo movement and the resurfacing of Dylan Farrow’s abuse allegations, Allen has gone from being one of U.S. cinema’s most revered directors and comedians to struggling to secure financing stateside for his work. European audiences and film companies have continued to embrace him, however. Coup de Chance‘s inclusion in Venice is the most prominent festival platform Allen has received in years, and the film will be released in France by distributor Metropolitan Filmexport on Sept. 27.