‘Dark Horse’, by Todd Solondz

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August 7, 2012 by Me and My Monkeys

All reviewers of Dark Horse will say that it is a darkish, dry comedy. And it is.

The first twenty minutes or so, in particular, are sharp and contained. The comic hopelessness of the Abe caricature helps Mia Farrow to quickly scratch our Woody Allen as well as our Todd Soldonz itch, snaring our laughter, pity and (perhaps) existential empathy.

There is something Clockwork Orange about Abe’s family home and his uneasy mix of child and man. There is no Beethoven and little ultra-violence, but there is the pent-up promise of an implosion within his stifling boy cage. An audience of thirty somethings are palliatively kept from despair by the exploited arthouse faces of Christopher Walken and pallid Selma Blair, who both give black comedy sucker punches with their eyes.

As is often the case, plot eventually gets in the way, as backstories are inserted and a dash of superfluous exposition thrown in. Some clunky genre shifts almost work, but ultimately there is no through line that stitches the confused comedy sketches together.

That said, Dark Horse is endearing and funny, with an added dose of poignancy to keep the melancholics tuned in. It’s just that you can only wake from a dream so many times.

Recommended? Yes.

Out of 10? 7

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