Posts Tagged ‘Jordan Gelber’
Always eager to infuse his films with a provocative sense of pitch black humour, Todd Solondz takes a lighter approach with his new movie Dark Horse.
Abe (Jordan Gelber) has let life pass him by. Now in his thirties, his situation reaches crisis point. While living at home with his parents and working a seemingly tokenistic job for his father’s company are both less than ideal, his main problem is that he’s terminally uncool. So when the out of his league Miranda (Selma Blair) agrees to his proposal, things are looking up. Her vague mental state, however, suggests that all is not well.
The first surprise is that Abe is primarily a sympathetic character; a rarity for core figures in Solondz’s filmography. Sure, his lack of self awareness is the film’s prime provoker of jokes, but he’s essentially a nice guy who’s suffering is undeserved. The second surprise is a lack of controversy. While Life During Wartime wasn’t as barbed as most of Solondz’s earlier films, it still had a caustic streak; the sole concession to such an outlook here is the idea that hepatitis could ruin an engagement. The satire, therefore, is certainly less pronounced.
For the first two-thirds, Dark Horse find Solondz in a more reserved mood, the cost being a lack of his individuality. But it still works. Humanity is depicted less bleakly than before (everyone seems to have some good about them, aside from Abe father who’s played by Christopher Walken), suggesting that Solondz can excel with less abrasive material.
Disappointingly, though, it seems that Solondz doesn’t know where to take his characters, especially as closing with a wedding (albeit surely a doomed, cringeworthy event) just wouldn’t be his style. And so Dark Horse desolves into a confusing mess in which even identifying the narrative direction (it could be a daydream, an alternate reality, Abe’s imagination) is impossible, let alone any further meaning. What remains is a decent if ultimately disappointing comedy in which Solondz has shifted from the norm without delivering anything radically unexpected.