The 400-Word Review: I Love You, Daddy
By Sean Collier
November 28, 2017
Many scenes in I Love You, Daddy are difficult to watch in light of writer/director/star Louis C.K.’s history of sexual assault. There are more obvious moments of discomfort, but one purely conversational moment jumps out.
Glen (C.K.’s character) is watching a movie with his daughter China (Chloë Grace Moretz); she argues that the film is a model of modern feminism. For several minutes, Glen explains to her what feminism is and isn’t, before accusing her of false feminism.
She gets mad at him. Glen later says that he was “mansplaining, or whatever.” But her thoughts are brushed off by a character — played by the writer who wrote the words — who truly believes he is qualified to explain feminism to a 17-year-old girl.
There’s plenty to unpack there. But the arrogance, confidence and brashly high opinion in which Glen holds his own thoughts (and, thus, in which C.K. holds his own thoughts) is stark and troubling. In retrospect, a lot of C.K.’s work signified that he did not at all relate to women, yet felt qualified to explain life to them. I suppose we didn’t notice at the time. That’s on us.
I Love You, Daddy is a movie about men wrestling with issues of consent and power. Before we knew what we know about C.K., this is what the movie was; now, it’s shocking (and, yes, unflinchingly creepy) that C.K. would tackle the subject.
C.K. plays a not-at-all-veiled version of himself, a successful-yet-stifled television writer; he’s trying to get going on a new project and begins a relationship with a glamorous movie star (Rose Byrne) who’s interested in working with him. (Yes, to restate the obvious: A young, talented female character wants to work with the C.K. stand-in, and he immediately tries to sleep with her.) Meanwhile, his 17-year-old daughter is spending time with a 67-year-old auteur (John Malkovich), modeled after Woody Allen.
China initially mentions that the old man is rumored to be a pedophile. “What makes you think you know that’s true,” asks Glen.
Its creator may have rendered it unwatchable, but I Love You, Daddy was a deeply flawed movie to begin with — one that regards its female characters not as humans but as mercurial and irritating forces in the life of its baffled, brilliant lead. Everything about it is wrong.
While I usually rank films out of 10 in this space ... there’s just no way. Sorry.
Sean Collier is the Associate Editor of Pittsburgh Magazine and a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Read more from Sean at pittsburghmagazine.com/afterdark