Posted on Friday, May 9th, 2014 by David Chen
After an interminable nearly-two-year absence, Louis CK‘s FX original series Louie finally made a return this past week. I’ve missed this show dearly. Not only does it allow viewers to mainline CK’s twisted, bleak worldview, but every episode is beautifully shot and edited, and every episode is directed by CK himself.
This week’s season premiere actually consisted of two episodes, the latter of which, “Model,” I was particularly taken with. In the episode, CK performs at charity benefit full of billionaires and bombs horribly, only to be seduced by a beautiful heiress who finds him funny. “Model” was so gorgeously filmed that I just had to pick apart some of the shots to explore what CK was trying to do with them. You’ll find my (SPOILER-filled) thoughts after the jump. Louie airs on Mondays on FX.
1. Louie bombs - In a hilariously awkward sequence, as Louie bombs at the benefit, a woman (played by Yvonne Strahovski) can be heard laughing among her silent companions. CK keeps her out of focus and in the darkness, even as she is occasionally seen in the foreground. The contrast between light and darkness indicates the characters’ respective levels of exposure in this situation, and Strahovski’s piercing, mysterious laughter in the darkness foreshadows her eventual entrance into Louie’s life.
2. The red carpet - As Louie leaves the benefit in shame, an entire conversation takes place in one long continuous shot outside. Rather than film this as a typical conversation, CK opts for a two shot, with Blake distant and out of focus for much of the scene. The red carpet between them (heading towards a vanishing point) symbolizes the vast gulf in stature and poise between the two characters.
I absolutely love how this scene unfolds with no edits, as the separation between the two characters becomes more and more obvious over time, and is ultimately closed as Blake drives up to Louie in her convertible.
3. The beach - Blake takes Louie by hand to the beach behind her enormous house and strips down to her underwear before running into the ocean. CK films her emergence in an almost dreamlike fashion. His head is virtually out of frame and out of focus, as the object of his affection joins him in a situation he can scarcely believe is real.
4. Seduction - The camera begins behaving wildly, almost in jerky motions, as Blake starts making out with Louie. The camera swings dramatically from left to right, then from below their eyelines to above, before pulling away. Its erratic behavior mirrors how Louie’s world is being unmoored, and all of his assumptions about his viability as a male companion are eradicated.
5. The credits – After Louie endures a hellish evening, in which he receives everything he ever wanted only to destroy it all at his own hands, he receives comfort from the waitress he was trying to ask out in the opening scene. As the episode comes to an end and the credits begin to roll, the camera lingers and Louie smiles, broken nose and all, and realizes that even with this horrible outcome, there is still some redemption to be had for him.