DVD Review: Dark Horse

Dark Horse DVDSTUDIO: Virgil | DIRECTOR: Todd Solondz | CAST: Jordan Gelber, Justin Bartha, Selma Blair, Mia Farrow, Christopher Walken, Donna Murphy, Aasif Mandvi
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 11/13/2012 | PRICE: DVD $24.99, Blu-ray $34.99
BONUSES: none
SPECS: NR | 88 min. | Comedy drama | 16:9 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1/DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

 

One of the more accessible outings from off-putting iconoclastic writer-director Todd Solondz (Storytelling, Happiness, Life During Wartime), the independent comedy-drama Dark Horse will irritate those not familiar with the filmmaker’s work and simply annoy others. But that would make it a success for Solondz, a master of cinematic discomfort who is in top form with Dark Horse, one of his best and most off-handedly funny efforts to date.

Dark Horse movie scene

Selma Blair and Jordan Gelber embark on a troubled romance in Dark Horse.

The film focuses on Abe (Jordan Gelber, TV’s Boardwalk Empire), a thirty-something, narcissistic, toy-collecting schlemiel who lives in the Jersey suburbs (similar to those seen in his Solondz’s 1995 breakout feature, Welcome to the Dollhouse) with his real estate dealer father (Christopher Walken, Catch Me if You Can) and comforting, clueless mother (Mia Farrow, Rosemary’s Baby). Abe, who also manages to do as little work as possible for Dad, gets a chance to change his life when he meets sickly slacker Miranda (Selma Blair, Columbus Circle) at a wedding. A whirlwind romance of a most uncomfortable nature ensues, with Abe’s naïveté and Miranda’s ex-boyfriend (Aasif Mandvi, Today’s Special) adding to the couple’s ongoing problems.

A terrific ensemble and Solondz’s eye for the absurd help make the proceedings oddly endearing despite a parade of rather unlikable characters. This time around, Solondz plays down the explicit perversities that featured strongly in his previous films, choosing instead to go into fantasy sequences that will likely leave some perplexed. But others will be touched by Solondz’s deftly poetic touches amidst Dark Horse’s doses of cynicism.

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About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.