Film Review: Dark Horse

Dark Horse a comedy drama that is only partially successful. Todd Solondz’s film has its moments, but feels unsatisfactory by the time the ending arrives.

Abe is a thirty-something toy collector who works for his father’s company. When he meets Miranda at a wedding, he decides to pursue her, despite her initial reluctance. A relationship forms between Abe and Miranda, who is living back with her parents after a break up, but there is trouble ahead…

Dark Horse is an interesting film, but one that loses its way. The humour works well, and is an anecdote to the more sombre aspects of the film. Nonetheless, with the uncertainty over the film’s narrator, Dark Horse blurs the line between reality and fantasy. This has been done exceptionally well in films, but it just doesn’t work in Solondz’s latest effort. The switching of realities grows tiresome, and is likely to leave viewers unsatisfied with the film.

Part of the issue is that the characters are not easy to identify with. Lacking the impulse to empathise with the central character entails feelings of apathy towards the character’s fate. Although complex or unlikeable characters can make great protagonists, Abe lacks anything that would really absorb the viewer’s attention. Miranda has the same problem, although she is a little more interesting.

Dark Horse boasts a great cast, but performances are not sufficient to save the film. Christopher Walken and Mia Farrow have little opportunity to shine in their rigid roles. Dark Horse boasts a great opening scene and some good moments, but it is all downhill from there.

Dark Horse is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2011.