Sunday, October 7, 2012

Dark Horse (2012)

Directed by Todd Solonz
Starring Jordan Gelber, Selma Blair, Christopher Walken, Mia Farrow

"Nobody cares."

First of all, the trailer to this film is a total snow job. Makes it look like an awkward/dysfunctional rom-com about two semi-lovable losers. Dark Horse is not that. It's actually a non-linear psychodrama about god-knows-what. I'm not sure why I expected anything different from Todd Solonz. He's never gonna make another Welcome to the Dollhouse. Anyway, Dark Horse stars portly character actor Jordan Gelber as Abe, a 35 year old balding asshole who drives a bright yellow Hummer and lives with his parents (Christopher Walken and Mia Farrow). He works for his dad, too, sorta, although most of his day at the office is taken up with buying $400 Thundercats toys on Ebay. Everything about Abe is repulsive, from his outfits (track pants and socks-with-sandals) to the way he treats his long-suffering parents. Solonz really screws us with this guy, because he's not even fun to hate. He's such a pathetic wretch that your disgust sloshes queasily into pity. And this is within the first five minutes. We've still got an hour and a half left to deal with this clown.

So anyway, he meets Miranda (Selma Blair) at a wedding. She's just out of it enough to accept his invitation to go out sometime. They have one uneventful date (so uneventful it takes place on the front steps of her house), and he asks her to marry him. Miranda is such a strung out, terminally depressed mess that she agrees, figuring that just giving up on her dreams and getting married and having kids might be easier than actually trying to improve her life. So that's what she does.

Or does she? I have no idea, because after the first twenty minutes, the film becomes an endless succession of dream sequences, mostly Abe's, but sometimes Miranda's, sometimes Abe's dad's, and even sometimes Abe's dad's secretary's. By the end of the film you have literally no idea what the fuck just happened. Luckily, none of the characters are compelling enough for you to care.

There is really only one reason to bother with Dark Horse, and that's because Selma Blair's in it. She looks great - even though she's supposed to look awful, and even when she's passed out on a bed in a drug haze - and for the few minutes she's actually in it, she's pretty convincing as a zonked-out misanthrope.

She's like Aubrey Plaza's middle-aged, pill-popping, suicidal older sister. Selma's presence didn't make up for the rest of the bullshit, though. If you're looking for a long slog to nowhere, you've found it. Otherwise, seek your Selma kicks elsewhere. And also, f**k Todd Solonz.

- Ken McIntyre

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