(2011)

Critic Reviews

66

Metascore

Based on 29 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
88
Someone like Abe could only prevail through the powers of denial and optimistic wishing, and Solondz makes that happen, as the film gradually slips into fantasy.
85
While skipping the more shocking turns of something like "Happiness," Dark Horse does feel like a return to the fearless darkness of those earlier films, a tale of a loser who's fully drawn but never allowed to be lovable.
75
It's a Solondz film; it's a given. Abe may deserve all that comes to him, but the question of how he got this way sustains the picture, against all odds.
75
There's a streak of compassion in Dark Horse, a sincere empathy for a thoroughly detestable man, that is as surprising as anything in Solondz's earlier, more transgressive work.
75
The plot's problem is insoluble: There is no honest ending for Abe other than a completely undramatic continuation of the trapped life he has lived so far. So we get narrative disjunction and a limp conclusion instead of the brilliant reversal of formula that was promised.
63
As the blindered Abe, relative-unknown Gelber earns a sympathetic pat on the head. But as the character is braying for attention, he's stuck in his stall, while genuine dark horse Donna Murphy carries the narrative load as the middle-aged co-worker who prances into Abe's daydreams.
60
Abe's day-to-day trials may eventually seem like cheap daytime TV, but Gelber and Solondz know how to nail the uncomfortably funny optimism shadowing American desperation.
50
Never less than watchable and loaded with trademark negativity so extreme it's sometimes funny, the new film is nonetheless saddled with a protagonist so narrowly and unlikably presented that, in the end, he doesn't seem worth the time devoted to him.
50
Fourteen years after "Happiness," why is director Todd Solondz still mucking around with the sort of idiot neurotic dweeb who makes George Costanza look like George Clooney?
50
The combative, off-putting Dark Horse features many of writer-director Todd Solondz's usual preoccupations: misery, complexity, stunted emotions, misplaced dreams.
50
It's a typical Solondz sad-sack tale, but this film seems to be disgusted by its own characters, which isn't true of the director's best work ("Happiness," "Welcome to the Dollhouse"). We don't need to like Abe, but it's unsettling to feel the director might actively dislike him.

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