Dark Horse (2011)

Dark Horse
Director: Todd Solondz
Writer: Todd Solondz
Cast: Jordan Gelber, Selma Blair, Mia Farrow, Christopher Walken, Justin Bartha, Zachary Booth, Aasif Mandvi, Donna Murphy
Part of: Viennale

Abe (Jordan Gelber) works for his father Jackie (Christopher Walken), where he does a pretty bad job, actually, since his interest is mostly invested in his toy collection, and gets his butt saved more often than not by co-worker Marie (Donna Murphy). When Abe meets the depressed Miranda (Selma Blair), he asks her out and since she’s basically too lethargic to decline, that’s actually the start of something.

I saw an interview with Todd Solondz where he said that he wanted to test the audience’ limits of sympathy with the character of Abe. Well, I guess I failed that test because I just couldn’t bring myself to care about him – and with my lack of sympathy for him, the movie didn’t work either.

I don’t believe that a film needs to be about a knight in shining armour without any faults whatsoever. But I do want to be interested in at least one character, I want to care about their success (or demise) in some way –  and that just didn’t happen here.

Apart from Marie and the dream sequences. Those were actually pretty great and all kinds of weird but awesome. Because Donna Murphy is absolutely great and at least in those scenes the movie gets a sense of humor. But also those scenes didn’t achieve that I cared about Abe. (I do realize that they were meant to show his vulnerability, but the whole thing just made me want to trample said vulnerabilities.)

The cast generall wasn’t bad. Not only Donna Murphy, though she stole the movie away, but also Christopher Walken (how could it be any different) and Mia Farrow. Selma Blair and Jordan Gelber were convincing as their respective characters, too, but I just couldn’t appreciate it as their characters were what they were.

I really liked the soundtrack though and the way Solondz uses it and the perfectionist pop rhetoric as a rather bitter counterpoint to Abe’s life. But in the end, nothing works without you caring about Abe’s life.

Summarising: didn’t work for me.

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