TORONTO — Allow me to run through the basic premise of Louis C.K.’s new movie, I Love You, Daddy, which he self-funded and filmed in secret in June.
As he does, C.K. plays a version of himself, this time embodying Glen Topher, a wildly successful TV writer with a massive New York pad, a crazy ex-wife (naturally) and a manipulative daughter, China (Chloë Grace Moretz). China is 17. This is important.
At a celeb-filled party thrown by an actress (Rose Byrne) he wants to
sleep with cast, Glen happens upon his idol (John Malkovich). The legendary filmmaker isn’t impressed by Glen, but quickly becomes enamored with China, who is nauseated by his reputation for sleeping with children.
Don’t believe everything you hear about people, Glen tells his daughter, echoing C.K.’s own ongoing PR problems involving allegations of sexual harassment against female comics. (“Well, you can’t touch stuff like that,” the comedian told Vulture last year. “If you need your public profile to be all positive, you’re sick in the head.”) I was still on board at this point, curious what kind of twisted score-settling tale CK had cooked up.
Then the older, goateed filmmaker begins to court Glen’s spoiled high-school senior, fetishizing her as she tries on skimpy outfits at Barneys, inviting her to Paris.
Glen is frozen and flummoxed. With his ex out of the picture, what should he do? As the audience laughed around me, my stomach began to roil.
What he doesn’t do is shut down a budding romance between his underage daughter and a 68-year-old man. Instead, C.K. gives Byrne a speech passionately defending a relationship that could amount to statutory rape.
Following the Ryerson Theatre screening, the cast took the stage.
C.K. summed up how the idea originated. “Vernon Chatman, who wrote it with me, we were just talking about (this) fascination with people that there are stories about and stuff, people you love, in their work. Then it just sort of came up like, ‘Oh, what if one of them was (expletive) my daughter?’ ” The audience laughed, eating it up.
As Glen sat helpless while his daughter left his house, again and again, to spend her time with a man her grandfather’s age, I shook watching this movie, which cavalierly auctioned off a minor (the age of consent is 16 to 18, depending upon the state), selling laughs…