NNarrative Feature Competition
Dark HorseOriginal Title: Dark Horse
Director: Todd Solondz
USA | English
With Dark Horse
, Todd Solondz once again provides the painfully acute observations on family drama and tortured romance he has brought to audiences in films like Welcome to the Dollhouse and Happiness. Abe (Jordan Gelber) is a thirtysomething mama's boy who doesn't let the fact that his mother (Mia Farrow) is one of the very few people who like him stand in the way of mooching extra cash from her over acrimonious games of backgammon. He goes through vague motions approaching "work" at the real-estate office run by his straitlaced and forever disappointed father (Christopher Walken), but mostly Abe fixates on buying retro toys to fill the childhood bedroom where he still lives.
Then he meets Miranda (played to near-comatose perfection by Selma Blair), whose own issues have her so spun that she doesn't really have it in her to reject Abe's proposals that they date – and get married. To wit, their thoroughly awkward first kiss is followed by her mumbling, "That could have been so much worse." But the happy news is soon overshadowed by the revelation of Miranda's real motives for being in the relationship, Abe's parents' collapsing patience with their rudderless son and the absolute failure of pretty much everyone involved to face up to some crucial realities.
Solondz explores this terrain by combining deadpan seriousness with Abe's increasingly volatile hallucinations as his reality abandons him. The overall effect is a black comic look at a contemporary American society spinning its wheels.
– Kate Lawrie Van de Ven