Writer/Director Todd Solondz new indie flick Dark Horse is not one of those movies that will grab audiences on the very first watch. It is for all intensive purposes, a dark comedy. It’s one of those pieces that must be watched more than once to truly appreciate its depth. Here, Solondz presents thirty-something Abe, who lives with his parents. How often has that been done, right? Right. But what makes this so great is that actor Justin Bartha really pulls off the stereotype, even going a little over the top at some points, to make his character believable. Abe is a grown up kid who obviously has a complete lack of connection to reality. Ironically enough, there are people out there just like Abe. Perhaps that reality is part of what makes this story difficult for some audiences to digest. From his relationship with his parents Jackie (Christopher Walken) and Phyllis (Mia Farrow) to that of his new girlfriend Miranda (Selma Blair), Abe shows his lack of maturity and responsibility. Abe only makes things worse for himself after proposing to Miranda having known her only for a week. Yet again, he shows his complete lack of connection to reality maturity here.
It’s these poor choices and general lack of maturity that has led to Abe’s disconnection with his family, including his far more successful brother. As uncomfortable as all of this is for viewers, Dark Horse offers laughs, too. There are people out there like Abe. That’s what makes his character so funny. Yet as his life begins to go downhill so quickly after meeting Miranda, one can’t help but feel a certain level of sympathy for him. That his life is so pathetic will actually make viewers want to have hope for him, despite everything. And that’s where the charm behind Dark Horse comes from. It’s one of those stories that as funny as it is, it’s just as moving. It reminds audiences about having compassion.
Audiences will develop compassion not just for Abe, but for his parents, too, as the story progresses. While his relationship with his parents is dysfunctional to say the least, they show that they still love him. And as the story comes to its surprising and bittersweet end, that compassion that builds for both Abe and his parents may even leave some viewers at least somewhat teary eyed. The near ninety-minute movie’s final moments are emotional. And they bring the entire story full circle, leaving an impression that won’t soon leave audiences who have taken the time to experience this story. It’s one more piece of evidence in the argument proving that indie flicks are just as good as any major big screen feature. It’s one more indie flick that any true movie lover should experience if only once.
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