Saturday, June 23, 2012

DARK HORSE by Pamela Powell

DARK HORSE, written and directed by Todd Solondz of Welcome to the Dollhouse, Storytelling, and Happiness notoriety, opened in Chicago Friday,  June 22.  Dark Horse starred Jordan Gelber, Selma Blair, Mia Farrow and Christopher Walken.  The premise of the movie, according to the writer and director, was a "typical boy meets girl story."  Dark Horse is anything but a typical boy meets girls story!  You see, Abe, who was "the boy" was a 30 something man-child "working" for his father and still living at home in his childhood room.  Abe did meet "a girl" at a wedding and instantly wanted to marry her.  This overmedicated and depressed girl, Miranda, for some reason agreed to marry Abe.  That's as much as I will give away because the movie isn't just about a boy meeting a girl, it's about relationships and regrets, parenting and "tough love."

Mia Farrow played the over-nurturing, smothering, but loving mother counter to Christopher Walken's part as the rather disappointed father, Jackie.  Jackie always rooted for the underdog that had potential which is a Dark Horse.  Abe was always his father's Dark Horse, or so he thought.  Abe's older brother, Richard, was the pride of the family.  He then became a doctor on the West Coast; not a disappointment.  We see how Abe and his brother were total opposites and the competition between the two was never really fair nor was it realistic.  Abe made it that way.   He never really grew up.  He played with action figures in his office setting and had more social interaction in his day dream sequences than in reality.  The blending of the two situations gave the viewer insight to Abe's thoughts and wants as well as his fears.  As Mr. Solondz pointed out to the audience that night, blending reality with dreams in a movie isn't new, but what I don't think he pointed out was the way in which he did it was unique.  These day dreams melded so smoothly with reality that as the viewer, I was questioning which was which!  It all fell together seamlessly, though.

Dark Horse was a comedy and a drama, but a rather sad comedy as you can see the reality of Abe's situations.  The pacing and conversational style of this movie kept things crisp and clear.  Abe's relationships with women were quite interesting and I am sure that Freud would have had a hay day with him on the couch!  This boy never became a man and this mother never really wanted him to become one.  Abe's thoughts and feelings toward his father's secretary along with how he interacts with Miranda is rather pathetic, but at the same time, as we have begun to know Abe, believable.  This self-absorbed character who took no blame for any turns in his road of life, frequently looked to others to bail him out of so many situations.  And they did.  A lesson we parents should all learn as bailing Abe out didn't help him in any way.

With many children returning home to live with their parents due to the current economic times, this movie is quite topical.  As I watched Mia Farrow coddle her son, it made me be a bit more self-critical in how much I do for both my kids.  I DO want them to grow up.  I DO want them to become independent!  Really, I do!

Make the time to see this film while it's here.  It's smart, quirky, realistic, current AND entertaining!  These independent movies are worth supporting so make a night of it and head to Lincoln Park to see it!  (Dinner suggestion is Erwin and it'll serve its final meal next week!  Don't miss that either!)

7.5 Reels

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