The only generous way to read Louis C.K.’s film “I Love You, Daddy” is as a portrait of male cowardice.

“They’re going to have to start providing barf bags at the movies,” I wrote in my notebook, five or so minutes into the press screening that I attended, in October, of Louis C.K.’s film “I Love You, Daddy.” The image that elicited this thought was of the actress Chloë Grace Moretz, in a very small bikini, shot from above and behind, the camera practically panting down the back of her exposed neck. Moments later, she saunters down a flight of stairs and straight into Louis’s arms. “I love you, Daddy,” she coos, kissing him smack on his bald head. You could play a drinking game and take a shot every time Moretz speaks that phrase, but that would likely result in alcohol poisoning, and also require you to watch the movie.

It now seems that few people will get that chance. “I Love You, Daddy,” which Louis wrote (from a story that he conceived with Vernon Chatman), directed, financed himself, and shot in secret, in June, was slated to open on November 17th. On Friday morning, the movie was pulled by its distributor in the wake of the Times report, published the previous day, detailing Louis’s habit of compulsively masturbating in front of female comedians. On Friday afternoon, Louis acknowledged the truth of the claims against him. The timing is uncanny. The film, which centers on the sexual machinations of powerful men, reeks of impunity. Like so many of Louis’s standup jokes that purport to skewer the grossness of men, it could only have been made by a person confident that he would never have to answer for the repulsive things he’s long been rumored to have done, let alone be caught—if I may borrow a choice word from the recently disgraced Leon Wieseltier—in a major moment of public “reckoning.”

 

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