Kathryn Hahn finally has a leading role in Jill Soloway’s new Amazon series, but will the intimacy of the novel translate to the screen?
In voiceover, Kathryn Hahn’s Chris reads a letter to the titular Dick, played by Kevin Bacon, in the new trailer for Jill Soloway’s latest Amazon series I Love Dick. “Dear Dick,” she says, with an image of a deer, a sharpie and a letter appearing within the first two seconds of the trailer, “this is about obsession.” It’s a simple line – as emphasized through the minimal white-text-on-red-background as Hahn’s line is spoken – but it conveys both what makes Chris Kraus’ original novel worthy of being deemed “one of the most important books about being a woman” as well as the difficulty in translating confessional literature onto the screen.
The events of Kraus’ novel of the same name are split into two parts. The first, “Part 1: Scenes from a Marriage,” tells the reader of Chris’ infatuation with Dick through the third person, broken into the first person by the character’s letters to him. The second, “Every Letter Is a Love Letter” moves into first person, told through a series of confessional letters. Since the novel’s intimacy is largely created through the fact its readers are holding Chris’ diaries and letters in their hands, it’ll be interesting to see how Soloway manages to recreate this world of obsession, secrecy and blurred boundaries between lust and love onto screen.
The trailer sees Hahn and Bacon’s characters stare directly to the camera, placing the viewer in the center of this story of infatuation; a story of when love goes one way, and how this can be good for the person projecting themselves onto another. As Hahn reads aloud the letters in her mind, her voiceover controls the editing of the trailer, with the frame often pausing as Hahn begins another letter. When Hahn and Bacon’s hands touch after Hahn begins another letter, the moving images turn still, portraying the analysis Hahn’s character’s mind goes through both when she is with Dick and when writing letters to him (but notably not for him). From the trailer alone, it’s clear that both Soloway and Hahn have approached I Love Dick in a way that renews the novel for the screen whilst still respecting the importance of the source material and the solace women around the world found with it.
With I Love Dick premiering on Amazon’s streaming service on May 12, the show has found its best platform for its viewers. The problem in translating the physical intimacy of the novel is removed when considering this form of streaming allows viewers to watch the whole show in one day, much like Kraus’ novel has been consumed in one sitting. What’s more, as our Andrew Karpan reported, Elena Ferrante’s cult-status Neapolitan novels are also being adapted to screen. Like Kraus, Ferrante is a cult author who explores the relationships between women, making it clear that there’s confidence in adapting these beloved novels.