I Love Dick (Pilot), 2016
Kevin Bacon, Kathryn Hahn, Griffin Dunne
Dir: Jill Soloway
After watching the pilot of this series, it might feel easy to dismiss it as the worst of the Amazon pilots this season. The unconventional narrative could come off as confusing and the cinematography itself as too “art-house” for a mainstream audience. Just look at the message board on IMDB and you’ll see entries such as “red armpit hair- ew” and “horrible” right out of the gate. I admit, this pilot took me off guard as it’s not the usual fare that streaming companies normally churn out. Nor is it something that I would choose to start viewing on my own as it was the last show of the three Amazon premieres not taken by one of our other reviewers. However, I believe it would be a mistake to simply write it off without giving it a chance.
This series is based on the “feminist novel” by Chris Kraus. I confess to not having read it, so I won’t be covering the differences from text to screen, nor will I cover the controversies surrounding the text itself. Our story, then, revolves around Chris (Kathryn Hahn), a failed film-maker who accompanies her husband Sylvere (Griffin Dunne) to Marfa, Texas. He has acquired a residency under Dick (Kevin Bacon), and his goal is to reinterpret the Holocaust. Neither of the main couple are very likeable. They’re both neurotic and most of their dialogue is awkward when they aren’t insulting each other. The town is an oasis of academia and artists and Chris and Sylvere’s interactions with the townspeople are pretty funny – one of them refers to Chris as “the Holocaust wife”. Upon meeting Dick at a party, Chris becomes infatuated with him even though during the subsequent dinner he acts, well, like a dick. She starts writing a letter to him, with her husband oddly encouraging her.
This letter acts as the plot points of the show, giving it a loose, free-form feel. The cinematography helps this along with some long cuts that stay after the action and quick pans during Chris’ imaginary dinner scene that accompany her dialogue to accent her feelings. Color is also used well. Most of the scenes are shot with dull colors while the scenes with Dick are vibrant and saturated in color. The soundtrack is eclectic and fits the show nicely.
In conclusion, I’m not going to give this show a score as I feel 33 minutes isn’t enough to know what’s going on – much less wrap up a series. I will say that the show has a good start and could be interesting enough to grab a dedicated following. It is shot well and (so far, at least) manages to come off as intellectual without falling into the trap of pretentiousness. If anything in this review sounds interesting to you, I suggest you give it a try, despite it having a shot of hairy armpits.