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Seduced and Abandoned

Year: 2013
Production Co: Michael Mailer Films
Director: James Toback
Producer: James Toback
Writer: James Toback/Alec Baldwin
Cast: James Toback, James Baldwin, Jessica Chastain, Bérénice Bejo, James Caan, Diane Kruger, Maretin Scorsese, Bernardo Bertolucci, Brett Ratner, RomanPolanski, Ryan Gosling, Francis Ford Coppola, Graydon Carter, Diablo Cody, Neve Cambell, Thierry Frémaux, Jefrey Katzenberg, Charlotte Kirk, Todd McCarthy, Mike Medavoy, Ron Meyer

Like an embarrassing old Uncle you hide in the garage, the presence of not one (James Toback), not two (Bernardo Bertolucci), not three (Brett Ratner) but four (Roman Polanski) powerful sexual predators bought down by the MeToo movement makes this movie an eye-opening experience to say the least.

You're left wondering if these guys all knew each other from trading the phone numbers of underage hookers or using the same hired workspace or hotel for their Hollywood casting couch tactics to get their rocks off, history eventually revealing the common linkage between them all. There's no Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Tambor, Kevin Spacey, Bryan Singer, Les Moonves, R Kelly, Charlie Rose, Louis CK, James Franco, Aziz Ansari, Paul Haggis, John Lasseter, Jeremy Piven or Dustin Hoffman appearing, but that might only be because of running time.

Like the films of Woody Allen, it's hard to look back on Seduced and Abandoned (eek – especially that title, I now realise!) and feel anything like the way creators James Toback and Alec Baldwin intend for you to. Every rejection they get from another high flying financier or partner makes you glad they (Toback, at least) lost his career, and I'm sure acclaimed performers still riding high like Jessica Chastain and Ryan Gosling want nothing more than a hot shower every time they remember they were in it – Chastain in particular must shudder in horror at the memory.

Like Morgan Spurlock's (another MeToo head that rolled who isn't in it) The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, it tells the story of a particular economic sector by showing you the travails of someone trying to navigate it – in this, the Cannes Film Festival. Director Toback and star Alec Baldwin travel to the iconic movie powwow with a hot package they're hoping to finance, a sexy spy thriller with Baldwin as the star and Neve Campbell as the female lead.

As they hop from one hotel terrance breakfast to another plush rented house, endless roadshow booths of producers looking for something to buy and interview suites with big stars, all hoping to get someone to sign on and finance their script, we get an interesting view behind the curtain of red carpet photocalls, premieres and ballgowns to see the sausage factory in action.

It's all a bunch of people wearing suits running all over the eponymous French seaside town taking endless meetings and all talking about the movies as products to be manufactured, marketed, bought and sold. Even at the time Toback and Baldwin would have been old hands at this so there's a certain amount of mugging for the camera, but it's still insightful.

The themes and motifs that emerge from the pair's bromancey road trip are varied and a bit unfocused – right at the end they start talking about the runtime of a movie as a metaphor of a human life that snaps out of existence in the wink of an eye. But if you're a movie geek and have a deep enough interest in the art and business of storytelling for the big screen there's plenty here you'll respond to, it's just hard not to look past all the sexual harassers, child molesters and rapists on screen.

And as if to cement its reputation as a greatest hits compilation of MeToo perpetrators and their attendant fallout, even Charlotte Kirk – the woman Warner Bros Chairman Kevin Tsujihara had an affair with and who subsequently paid with his job – is in it.

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