Indie Night: Todd Solondz’s “Dark Horse”

Posted by Charles Stockdale on 6.6.2012

Few filmmakers are able to make black comedies that are either as dark or as funny as those of Todd Solondz. Solondz’s most recent film, Dark Horse (2011), is a most worthy addition to the director’s filmography, highlighting his gift for capturing the painful awkwardness and lingering sadness of modern life. We are proud to present a special screening of the film tonight (June 6) at 8:00pm, followed by a Q&A with Todd Solondz, Donna Murphy and Jordan Gelber moderated by producer and Indie Night guest co-curator Ted Hope.

Dark Horse tells the story of not-quite-lovable loser Abe, played by Jordan Gelber, as he struggles to avoid any and all responsibility in his life. An underdog if there ever was one, the thirty-something-year-old Abe still lives with his parents, collects toys, and slacks off at his job, which has undeservedly been given to him by his father. By a stroke of luck, Abe meets the similarly immature Miranda, played by Selma Blair, who offers a potential change of pace for Abe. Of course, those familiar with Solondz’s other films (Welcome to the Dollhouse, Happiness) know that life is never that easy for the poor souls inhabiting his universe.

Although the content of the film may strike many as the most accessible ever dealt with in Solondz’s work, the film maintains a level of bittersweet irony that shows the cult director has certainly not lost his edge. Dark Horse explores the negative aspects of family, relationships, and the modern phenomena of the man-child with a biting sense of humor. However, the film, while often painful to watch, can rarely be considered cruel. Instead, it relies on true-to-life emotions that help it preserve a certain level of humanity, as it is impossible for the viewer not to empathize with the characters.

By the very nature of his work, Todd Solondz is a controversial filmmaker. The line he walks between comedy and crushing melancholy is often blurred, and audiences are frequently left divided. Find out where you stand tonight at our advanced screening of Dark Horse, part of our ongoing, monthly Indie Night series.

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