The American comedian Louis CK has stunned audiences at the Toronto Film Festival with a film, shot in secret just three months ago, about an affair between a 68-year-old movie director and a 17-year-old girl.
Shot in 35mm black-and-white, I Love You, Daddy is both indebted to Woody Allen's 1979 masterpiece Manhattan, and - at least obliquely - inspired by the controversial affair between Allen and Soon-Yi Previn.
Allen was 57 and Previn, step-daughter of his then-partner Mia Farrow, was 21 when their affair was discovered by Farrow in 1992. That discovery precipitated the end of Allen and Farrow's relationship. Soon after, allegations of sexual abuse of their adopted daughter Dylan were levelled against Allen, though no charges were ever laid.
CK's film was unveiled on Saturday to a Toronto Film Festival audience that was surprised, a little shocked, but mostly enthusiastic in its response. Reviews have been largely positive if a little inclined to the view that it needs an edit.
I Love You, Daddy was filmed in June, and arrived at Toronto with little warning. It had been financed, shot, directed and edited by CK in secret, and until its debut, little had been known about the project, despite the presence in its cast of several big names.
John Malkovich plays the director, Chloe Grace Moritz his young lover, and CK her father, a TV producer with some issues of his own when it comes to women.
"I just didn't tell anybody we were making it," CK told the audience in a Q&A session after the screening. "If you don't tell anybody, nobody cares what you're doing. Once you ask for money, then it gets around. But I was just making it on my own dime."
On the question of who or what the film is about, CK - who has been dogged by allegations of his own about sexual improprieties towards women - said that he and his co-writer Vernon Chatman had wanted to make a movie about beloved artists who are trailed by rumours of scandal.
"Vernon and I were talking about the fascination with people that there's these stories about and stuff - people that you love in their work," Bloomsberg reported.
To The Hollywood Reporter, he was more explicit, conceding that, "Woody is an ingredient, along with a whole other generation of dudes who used to go up and down the age line [of sexual partners] a lot more easily.
"I grew up with that. Manhattan is a movie I saw as a kid, and I was like, 'OK, that's what people do'.
"We're at the bleeding edge of that's not OK to do now, but those people are still around."