2011 / Director. Todd Solondz.
Review by Jarret Gahan.
Abe (Jordan Gelber), despite being in his early-thirties is effectively a child, babied by his mother (Mia Farrow), financially supported by his father (Christopher Walken), he is the youngest of two children, lives at home and works for the family business. Though the term work is used loosely as he spends the bulk of his time at the office, trawling eBay for 80s toy paraphilanila and sulking. Abe is everything that is wrong with the modern populous, quick to temper, never contributing, feeling he is owed and ultimately blaming others for his own shortcomings, he is the quintessential arsehole. As unlovable as he may be, he finds a potential suitor in Miranda (Selma Blair), a beautiful yet broken woman who is as heavily medicated as she is hopeless, once an aspiring writer but now a spiralling mess. The pair meet at a wedding, being the social misfits they are, they're seemingly the only two not on the dance-floor which leads to an awkward conversation where Abe manages to procure Miranda’s phone number. Upon what may be deemed as their first date Abe proposes in a cringe worthy and spontaneous manor. Days later Miranda calls Abe and sheepishly agrees, the two then set about getting to know one another better. This relationship though, is just one of many both real and fictitious that take a focus in what primarily remains Abe’s story, a tale of a man so divorced from reality and far from empathy that it’s a wonder people have been so tolerant of him for as long as they have but they are and that is a key factor in this film.
Gelber’s performance as Abe is an incredible one, he has the arduous task of portraying someone you downright loathe but find engaging enough to continue to want to watch. A fine line equalled by Solondz’s direction with his trademark balance of sorrowfulness and humour, often making for uncomfortable viewing but always compelling.
The cinematography is perfectly understated and the repetition in composition for certain segues serve as an effective storytelling device. From memory there is no score in the picture (and upon consulting IMDB no one is credited for one either) however music by form of song is used to great effect in accentuating elements within the plot. Particular kudos must be payed to Michael Kisur for the track ‘Who You Wanna Be’, a solid upbeat pop anthem that feels very early 1980s in its sound, if this song isn't in your head for days after watching the film, you’re already dead. While sadly DARK HORSE wasn't met with the same critical praise or humble box office of Solondz’s previous films, personally I feel it’s among his best, his work is definitely an acquired taste but for the true believers out there this a smorgasbord, Bon Appétit.