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Abe Wertheimer - an odious, purposeless, self-centered 35-year-old living parasitically with his parents (by choice) and working in his dismayed father's business office (avoiding work while scoping eBay for collectible toys) - meets Miranda, an equally pathetic but self-loathing social dropout who, having given up on life, masochistically accepts Abe's sudden proposal of marriage for a knowingly grim future she won't fight against. Along with projecting his own faults onto his father, his own jealousy for lack of success and accomplishment onto his younger brother, and wallowing in the blind support of his mother, it's just another aspect of Abe's unsatisfying life that he just can't see to improve. A long-overdue decision finally spins his insignificant life out of control.Written by
A 'sad comedy' quote, unquote the director. Or in other words, a tragedy decorated by comedy.
Being someone who has seen most of Todd Solonz's movies, you know what to expect from him. And you won't get disappointed. I had the opportunity to watch the Middle East premiere of Dark Horse at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival. It was an even bigger experience to have Todd present during the screening, and give it an introduction as a 'sad comedy, where it's up to you to laugh or not'. I don't know how big an impact this particular statement had on my state of mind throughout the movie, but I cant help mentioning the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The story revolves around Abe, a thirty-something who works for his father, pampered by an extremely loving mother, having a highly accomplished doctor as his brother, and having a passion for collecting toys. When he meets Miranda, a strangely damaged soul going through some serious depression, he begins to think of getting out of his desperation by having her as a partner. They eventually enter into a seriously unstable relationship, where you even begin to question whether there really existed any element of a relationship between them.
The beauty of the movie lies in the director trying to portray the dark side of the unstable mind, through imagery. One of the scenes which really got to me is where Abe is supposedly in a toy store, demanding a refund for his fiancé whom he wants to return, insisting that he has a receipt which as the store staff points out has its date smudged out. Even though this scene is a figment of his fantasy, it really goes to show how Abe perceives things in life. A few other incidents involving the unseen affection Marie (secretary to Abe's father) has towards Abe, and Miranda's ex-boyfriend Mahmoud, all seemed to perfectly blend into the movie.
Needless to say, Christopher Walken played a strong part as Abe's father, so did all the other characters including Selma Blair as Miranda. However a big part of the movie's success lies in the solid performance by Jordan Gelber as Abe, who i felt was just apt for the role and did total justice to it.
Final verdict: A story involving a dysfunctional (or perhaps semi- functional) family, two out-of-the-normal characters and their seemingly unstable relationship, brilliantly presented in the form of a comedy - which makes you laugh and at the same time think about the appropriateness of laughing. Entertaining, and thought-provoking.
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