TIFF 2017: Five interesting moments from Louis C.K.s I Love You, Daddy premiere

One of the great things about Louis C.K.s TV series Louie is the stand-up comedians clear affinity for arthouse and.


One of the great things about Louis C.K.s TV series Louie is the stand-up comedians clear affinity for arthouse and European cinema. The FX series is full of overtures in both its boundary-pushing narrative flourishes and the subjects it sometimes lovingly sends up to movie history, but the comic-turned-filmmaker takes his love of old movies into epic terrtiroy with his self-financed I Love You, Daddy.

The film, which he shot in secret on 35 mm black-and-white film in June and edited in time for a world premiere at TIFF, nods to both Woody Allen and Howard Hawks in terms of its rich production detail, snappy dialogue and rapturous cinematography.

The plot also seems inspired by filmmakers known to pursue younger women and girls, such as Roman Polanski and Allen, in order to ponder whether you can appreciate someones art while being morally at odds with their personal choices. Just as Allen’s films Manhattan and Husbands And Wives reflected aspects of his personal life (though he usually downplays similarities), I Love You, Daddys overarching theme seemingly winks at sexual misconduct rumours that have dogged C.K. for the past five years.

Here are five interesting moments from the premiere September 9 at the Ryerson. (Warning: spoilers ahead)

I Love You, Daddy is about wildly successful TV exec named Glen Topher (C.K.), whose aimless 17-year-old daughter China (Chloe Grace Moritz) becomes friendly with 68-year-old filmmaker and rumoured child molester Leslie Goodwin (John Malkovich). Topher idolizes the director despite the gossip swirling around him until Goodwin starts hanging with his daughter.

During the Q&A, TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey asked C.K. what inspired the film. The fascination with… people and their work. And it just came up, what if one of them was fucking my daughter? he responded. Then it became about being a shitty dad and not knowing how to handle much and meeting someone youre enamoured with as an artist and them thinking that theyre nothing.

Later he said that when actor Charlie Day read the script, he quipped, That guys Woody Allen in the movie, right? The audience roared with laughter. It could be a lot of people, C.K. added.

In one scene, Tophers assistant Ralph (Day) pretends to masturbate when Topher receives a call about casting an attractive movie star, Grace Cullen (Rose Byrne), in a role. As Ralph aggressively simulates beating off on the couch, a production manager played by Edie Falco walks in the room and he keeps on going. Though the scene is a great showcase for Days comic talents, it was awkward to watch given two years ago Gawker published a story in which female comedians said C.K. jerked off in front of them. Roseanne Barr later told The Daily Beast that she has heard similar stories, and last month Tig Notaro told the same outlet that C.K. should handle the allegations. C.K. publicly addressed the rumours in an interview with Vulture and he dismissed them as not real.

Toward the end of I Love You, Daddy, Moretz shares a pivotal and tension-filled moment with Malkovich that was initially quite graphic in terms of the dialogue. Id written a scene that was her saying the most explicit shit I wanna fuck you like, it was insane, he told the crowd. When Moretz first read it through for the table read, she did so with gusto. Then she looked up at the director and said: China needs to chill.

It was so clear to everyone in the room that was not a woman talking, he said, as the audience erupted in laughter. Thats a dude working it out. On shoot day, she texted him to ask what her lines would be. He went to her trailer and said he hadnt come up with anything yet, so he auditioned ideas and wrote lines that she then approved.

In another pivotal scene, Grace (Byrne) and Glen (C.K.) have a heated discussion about whether or not he should interfere in his daughters friendship with Leslie (Malkovich) because of the significant age gap. Grace accuses Glen of denying the agency of women who sleep with powerful men because he assumes they are the ones being used or do so for only financial purposes. Then she admits she once slept with a much older man as a teen. You were raped, he shoots back. The intense exchange reflects the tenor of conversations around the Roman Polanski case as well as aspects of the recent Joss Whedon scandal.

One of the oft-repeated sentiments during director introductions at this years TIFF is how the movies we are about to see were filmed off the grid i.e. with no Hollywood support. That is the case for I Love You, Daddy, which C.K. said he would not have been able to finance if fans hadnt downloaded his web series Horace And Pete, released in 2016 via a direct-to-consumer distribution model.

He even told the crowd that he spent $50,000 on a MovieBird crane to capture one specific shot of the New York skyline just because he could. Fuck it, he said. Its my money. I Love You, Daddy is looking for distribution at TIFF and, given the love it received from the Toronto audience at the premiere, he will likely recoup his investment.

I Love You, Daddy screens again Wednesday (September 13), 5:30 pm, Ryerson, and Sunday (September 17), 2:30 pm, Scotiabank 4.

kevinr@nowtoronto.com | @kevinritchie

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