Seems that Solondz is almost getting mellow as he matures – DARK HORSE could be confused by some as a middle-of-the-road ensemble comedy. There remain certain flourishes and idiosyncrasies that have separated his films from the mainstream, but in this, his most accessible film in years, it’s a story that unfolds in almost a straight forward fashion.
Jordan Gebler plays Abe, a 30-something guy who has never left home. His bedroom is littered with various miscellany betraying him as a collector of pop culture ephemera1. He smokes too much pot, works for his dad (Christopher Walken), is coddled by his mom (Mia Farrow), and generally makes a mess of himself. Abe falls for a girl at a wedding, asks abruptly for her hand in marriage after just a few dates, and she accepts it, leading the rest of the film into a mix of a character drama and farce.
The film has moment of great levity, and the actors do well to keep the mood of the piece alive. Still, while it includes some real vintage Solondz moments, the expectations that this director has built up make for a relatively tame, and thus relatively forgetful, ensemble comedy.
DARK HORSE is the least dark of any of Todd’s works, and it’s possible that this new direction reveals some holes in his craft that otherwise were obscured by the sheer shock and insanity of his other works. Still, it’s an engaging, amusing film, quirky and fun, and worth at least a single viewing.