Jill Soloway, who brought the massively successful Transparent to Amazon has now adapted Chris Kraus’s novel I Love Dick to the streaming giant, which is now up for voting in the Amazon Pilot scheme. I Love Dick stars the excellent Kathryn Hahn as Chris, an independent filmmaker “straddling 40” who has moved to Marfa, Texas with her writer husband Sylvere (Griffin Dunne). They are in Marfa so that Sylvere can concentrate on his writing, with Dick (Kevin Bacon) providing a mentoring role.
Stuck in a humdrum life that doesn’t appear to be challenging her, and frustrated with her progress as a filmmaker, Chris immediately falls for Dick with his differing ideas and opinions which both disgust and attract her to him. At one point over dinner Dick comments that most films by women are rubbish, which is followed up by a comment that this could be because they are working from behind oppression. The comments throw Chris off completely as she takes offence to what has been said, but is so impassioned by this challenging standpoint it draws her to him. Whether Dick believes in what he is saying, or is using it as a tool to motivate Chris remains to be seen, and one would presume it would play out over the course of a season should it be ordered by Amazon.
Both Hahn and Bacon embody their roles perfectly, but Hahn especially gives us a glimpse of what could easily become one of the tour de force performances on TV should she be given the opportunity to fully flesh out the character. After primarily being used in fringe roles, the film industry is eventually but sadly just noticing how good she is, we’re thankful but it should have came sooner. The setting of Marfa, Texas is a unique one, offering a scenery crying out to be captured, and the direction of the pilot interesting. Bold letters are emblazoned across the screen alongside Hahn’s narration of the text itself, and scenes jutter to a stop as we go from movement to photograph like snapshots (I honestly thought my internet connection stuttered the first time). Both make I Love Dick standout as a pilot by doing things differently, inspiring intrigue in a tale of lust, ideas and life.
The only problem with I Love Dick is that it’s a slow starter, and a story not suited to being shot as a pilot on the off chance it’ll get taken up on a full season order. The pilot itself isn’t brilliant, but it offers a heart full of promise that it could become a great show should it be given the chance. Despite being placed alongside The Tick and Jean-Claude Van Johnson, I Love Dick is not the same type of comedy that is on offer in either of the shows, in fact calling it simply a comedy is doing the pilot an injustice. It has moments of humour, but they’re rooted in life and drama. If Amazon pick up I Love Dick (I imagine they will, even if it is just based on the success of Transparent), they’ll have a potentially terrific show on their hands. It’s not for everybody, it’s not outright comedy but it is different and it could be great.