When I Love You, Daddy, Louis C.K.’s low-budget feature-length comedy (his first since 2001’s Pootie Tang) premiered last month at the Toronto International Film Festival, the reception was decidedly mixed, and for good reason – it’s a thinly-veiled meditation on his hero and Blue Jasmine collaborator Woody Allen, with C.K. as a high-powered television producer whose teenage daughter (Chloë Grace Moretz) falls under the sway of a much older, quite legendary filmmaker (John Malkovich) known for his predilection for young women. These connections are not subtle; the filmmaker character is haunted by a rumor of child molestation, and the film itself is an elegant NYC-based comedy, lushly scored and shot in luminous black and white, in an unmistakable homage/satire of Allen’s 1979 classic Manhattan.
In other words, it was a discomforting watch in September, seen merely through the prism of the ongoing Allen story, particularly since any given viewer can see it as either an attack on the older filmmaker or an apology for him, or maybe both. C.K.’s insistence on keeping his movie in the squishy middle makes for an uncomfortable sit – purposefully, it seems, but perhaps not effectively. That was in September.
Now, with the Harvey Weinstein scandal prompting new examinations of not only the allegations against Allen but the whispers about Louis C.K. himself, it’s hard to imagine a worse cultural moment to release a comedy about entertainers and their sexual exploitation of young women, particularly one that’s so hesitant to take anything resembling a stand. But they’re gonna do it, and here’s a trailer:
To be clear, the film is well-made and smartly acted and often very, very funny. But you’d think one of the great stand-up comics of our time would be better at reading the room.
Anyway. I Love You, Daddy is out November 17.