Dark Horse


Generally favorable reviews - based on 29 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 29
  2. Negative: 1 out of 29

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Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Jun 14, 2012
    Solondz's most waywardly endearing film - his gentlest triumph.
  2. 90
    You could never call Solondz a humanist, but he achieves something I've never seen elsewhere: compassionate revulsion.
  3. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Jun 7, 2012
    Mr. Solondz brilliantly - triumphantly - turns this impression on its head, transforming what might have been an exercise in easy satirical cruelty into a tremendously moving argument for the necessity of compassion.
  4. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Jun 20, 2012
    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.
  5. Reviewed by: Alison Willmore
    Jun 7, 2012
    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.
  6. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Aug 9, 2012
    Reality and fantasy become increasingly blurred. And if you want to enjoy Dark Horse, you're just going to have to go with it.
  7. Reviewed by: Kim Newman
    Jun 25, 2012
    Less confrontational than most Solondz movies, in that it refrains from violence or kink, but still unsettling and affecting.
  8. Reviewed by: David Denby
    Jun 11, 2012
    Abe is blustery and self-pitying, but, with Solondz's new tender mercies fully engaged, Gelber makes you feel close to a guy for whom nothing was ever meant to go right.
  9. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Aug 9, 2012
    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.
  10. Reviewed by: Kate Taylor
    Jun 28, 2012
    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.
  11. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Jun 21, 2012
    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.
  12. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Jun 6, 2012
    The scenes between Gelber and Blair are the strongest in Dark Horse, because they form a bond not out of shared interests or passion, but a weary kind of compromise.
  13. Reviewed by: J.R. Jones
    Jun 21, 2012
    In movies like "Happiness" and "Storytelling," Todd Solondz has staged some pretty horrifying courtships, but the one in this seventh feature is surprisingly gentle.
  14. Reviewed by: Marc Savlov
    Jul 25, 2012
    Farrow and Walken are terrifically semicomatose as Abe's mom and dad, and Murphy – as a co-worker who takes what appears to be pity on the eternally adolescent Abe – is equally memorable. Yet Dark Horse feels like a lesser Solondz film, despite its cavalcade of misanthropy.
  15. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Aug 3, 2012
    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.
  16. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Aug 3, 2012
    Seizing the role, and the screen, Gelber actually makes us care what happens to his surly, thoroughly unlikable character.
  17. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Jul 26, 2012
    Dark Horse is a comedy of bad manners that's imbued with uncertainty about the world and one man's place in it. Modest and mildly entertaining, it's a miniature portrait of a potentially jumbo-sized failure.
  18. Reviewed by: Neil Smith
    Jun 21, 2012
    Though more forgiving than previous Solondz films, Dark Horse is too slight to herald a wholesale change of direction. Yet it's still worth catching, if only for Walken's terrible toupee.
  19. 60
    He's either daring you not to laugh or daring you not to care, but either way, you'll laugh, care and worry about the consequences in Dark Horse.
  20. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Jun 7, 2012
    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.
  21. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Jun 5, 2012
    The movie strays too far into fantasy - Abe suffers mightily - but Solondz still has an ear and an eye for a specific hell in the real world.
  22. Reviewed by: Amy Biancolli
    Jul 19, 2012
    The combative, off-putting Dark Horse features many of writer-director Todd Solondz's usual preoccupations: misery, complexity, stunted emotions, misplaced dreams.
  23. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Jun 21, 2012
    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?
  24. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Jun 8, 2012
    Result is far less abrasive than some of its predecessors, but for that very reason seems unlikely to generate the attention needed to meet Solondz's already modest commercial standards.
  25. Reviewed by: Sara Stewart
    Jun 7, 2012
    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.
  26. Reviewed by: Nick Pinkerton
    Jun 5, 2012
    With Solondz's old-hat funeral deadpan and his efforts to pass off Abe's adolescent rage as elevated insight, Dark Horse is neither incisively black-comic nor particularly attuned to human behavior - proof that some directors, at least, do end up the way they started out.
  27. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Jun 5, 2012
    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.
  28. Reviewed by: Xan Brooks
    Jun 5, 2012
    There is little in the film's pitch-black interior that wasn't tackled better – with more bite, wit and abandon – in "Happiness," "Welcome to the Dollhouse," or "Storytelling."
  29. Reviewed by: Ed Gonzalez
    Jun 5, 2012
    Yesterday, Solondz blocking the screen meant something, even if it was just his own petulance. Today, a blurred sign only signifies his capitulation to peer pressure.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 8 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Aug 7, 2012
    Certainly more light-hearted than one of my faves Happiness, Dark Horse is an excellent film. The lead actor is terrific, Selma Blair is greatCertainly more light-hearted than one of my faves Happiness, Dark Horse is an excellent film. The lead actor is terrific, Selma Blair is great (as usual), but Donna Murphy absolutely steals the show. Full Review »
  2. Jul 27, 2012
    A KVIFF screening, my second Todd Solondz