I Love You, Daddy (2017)

  • Time: 123 min
  • Genre: Comedy | Drama
  • Director: Louis C.K.
  • Cast: Louis C.K., Chloë Grace Moretz, Rose Byrne, John Malkovich, Helen Hunt


When a successful television writer’s daughter becomes the interest of an aging filmmaker with an appalling past, he becomes worried about how to handle the situation.

One comment

  • It’s difficult not to think of actor-writer-director Louis CK’s recent offscreen troubles when watching his new film, I Love You, Daddy. The artist has always been known for pushing the boundaries with his often unsettling brand of cringe comedy but, with the shadow of the multiple allegations of sexual harassment largely looming, many of the film’s moments become even more disturbing to watch especially since one of the themes CK explores is separating the creator from their art. Even if CK wasn’t one of the abusers caught out in the post-Weinstein, #MeToo movement, that particular subject may not be the most welcome one in these times.

    Shot on breathtakingly beautiful 35mm film that strongly echoes both 40’s-era Hollywood and, specifically, Woody Allen’s Manhattan, I Love You, Daddy revolves around CK’s Glen Topher, whose success as a highly respected and in-demand TV writer is matched only by his neuroses. He doesn’t have much luck with women – both his ex-wife (a tart Helen Hunt) and his ex-girlfriend Maggie (the always great Pamela Adlon; as an aside, if you’ve yet to see her TV show Better Things, you’re missing out) point out what a loser he is and what a ridiculous pushover he is when it comes to his 17-year-old daughter China (Chloë Grace Moretz, sharp and engaged), who has him wrapped around her finger.

    China is a smart but aimless, open to adventure and new experiences, but extremely dependent on her daddy and certainly not above taking advantage of her privileged lifestyle. Having just come back from spring break in Florida, she not only convinces her father to let her go back to Florida for more of the same but have her fly back in the jet he leases for business. Maggie, noting China’s habit of constantly expressing her affection for her daddy, calls out Glen for being a bad father: “If your 17-year-old daughter says ‘I love you’ all the time, that means you’re doing something wrong.”

    His inability to say no to China gets severely tested when China begins hanging out with one of his heroes, 68-year-old filmmaker Lesley Graham (a perfectly cast John Malkovich), whose acclaimed and legendary career has been stained with rumours that he once molested a child. “You shouldn’t say things about someone’s private life when you don’t know them,” Glen admonishes China, who is initially disgusted by Lesley but who comes to be charmed and even amused by candour and eccentricity (“He’s gross but hilarious,” she remarks to her horrified father). Lesley’s seduction of China is a highlight – roundabout and effortless and containing one of the most aphrodisiacal sentences (“What do you think?”) to any young women who have spent their lives so far having their opinions either formed for them or disregarded. “Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly…

    Though Glen was immediate in his defense of Lesley, he’s not so keen when the situation involves his own daughter. It’s his daughter and she’s a minor, he tells Grace Cullen (Rose Byrne), the pregnant actress he cast as the lead in the new show he’s sold off and who has become his offscreen paramour. His determination to do the right thing naturally results with him bumbling and stumbling at every turn.

    A defense of the film is by no means a defense of CK’s offscreen actions. One can appreciate the merits of I Love You, Daddy and also be aggrieved by the deplorable behaviour of its creator, though many can and will argue otherwise. The film has its faults – an indulgent running time for one, some slack pacing for another – but its daring and discomfiture aren’t amongst them. “Great poetry comes from our flaws,” Lesley tells China at one point and, whilst that line can be viewed as an excuse, it’s not entirely untrue. Heroes and influences, cinematic and otherwise, are never wholly unblemished and whilst life can bleed into art in often disquieting ways, provocations should be fostered, at least onscreen. Otherwise, we may as well relegate ourselves to watching bland and mindless films for the rest of our lives.

    Click here for more reviews at the etc-etera site

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *