Dark Horse

By Moira Sullivan
Selma Blair and Jordan Gelber in Dark Horse

 Dark Horse by Todd Solondz premiered at the Venice Film Festival last year and is now in San Francisco. The film is enjoying a new romp at the theatres and it’s worth a visit to check out Solondz' latest creation. This is one of his upbeat movies compared with his previous somber tales about dysfunctional families even though this film is riddled with characters that are indeed dysfunctional. First there is Abe, brilliantly played by Jordan Gelber, a 30 + man who is the dark horse of the family, who lives at home with his parents played by Mia Farrow and Christopher Walken and who works in his father's business. Abe is a very unhappy man who was unable to strike out on his own and remained at home unlike his successful brother Richard, played by Justin Bartha, a doctor, who he felt wronged by growing up because he was just the opposite of him –successful and his father's favorite.  Abe’s life takes a turn for the better when he meets Miranda, played by Selma Blair, at a wedding. Her character is a little like the one she plays in Hellboy, the depressed woman who is unable to control bursting out in flame when she experiences dark emotions, or any kind of emotion. Miranda is depressed most of the time and on one of their first dates Abe speaks to Miranda who is lying face down on her bed. Todd Solondz is clever in creating believable characters but also personalities that  create identification and pathos for us. His sense of timing is extraordinary even with characters  such as the clerk at a huge toy  store who wont take back a toy that Abe has bought because “he opened it”. Abe is at the point of a volcanic eruption and the slightest interaction that he perceives that is the least negative sets him off. He is generous with his mother and also Miranda who allow him to be himself, but when Miranda presents her ex boyfriend to him, Mahmoud, he flies into a rage because he probably infected Miranda with Hepatitis B. In fact it is Abe that as a scapegoat reveals all the emotions of his characters by reacting to and playing out their dysfunctionalism.  The film weaves in and out of dream states to show the underlying motives of the people that Abe is surrounded by and tries to relate to. Eventually his family life gets to him even if it took many years to cause a melt down. Dark Horse makes you appreciate those family members who are pushed aside for  the sake of convention.

For Movie Magazine this is Moira Sullivan
© 2012 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 07/18/12
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