I’ve been a huge Todd Solondz fan since I saw Welcome to the Dollhouse in a theater outside of Syracuse in 1996. Criticize his characters as you may, but I think that there are few screenwriters out there who can successfully make the most despicable of characters endearing (kind of an anti-LaBute). He’s done it again with Dark Horse, which may just feature the most unlikable character of his filmography (and that’s, of course, saying a lot when it comes to Solondz). Abe (character actor Jordan Gelber) is a 35-year-old short-tempered brat who lives with his parents (Christopher Walken as a suburban square and Mia Farrow as a coddling caregiver), collects toys, and has a generally negative attitude towards life (“Humanity’s a fucking cesspool”). He works for his father, but spends his time in the office shopping on eBay while his secretary covers for him. And he drives a yellow Hummer. Abe meets the depressed Miranda (Selma Blair) at a wedding where he succeeds in bugging the phone number out of her. They start the most awkward of relationships that leads to that unique brand of darkly hilarious tragedy that fans of the director eagerly await.
I’ll admit that I didn’t think much of the film upon my initial viewing, but it’s one of the few things this year that really stuck with me. It’s gloriously suburban, the performances are really strong all around, and the dynamics are so subtle that they linger around for a while (at least for me they did). And the opening dance sequence is just plain brilliant, painfully so.
Dark Horse opens today at the Ritz at the Bourse.