Aviva is thirteen, awkward and sensitive. Her mother Joyce is warm and loving, as is her father, Steve, a regular guy who does have a fierce temper from time to time. The film revolves around her family, friends and neighbors.
Jennifer Jason Leigh,
Stephen Adly Guirgis
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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
Flute Concerto in G Major, K. 313: I. Allegro Maestoso
Written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performed by Martin Pearlman & Boston Baroque
Soloist: Jacques Zoon
Courtesy of Telare International
Used by permission of Concord Music Group, Inc. See more »
Todd Solondz obviously doesn't like people. If he did he wouldn't give us characters as thoroughly unlikable as Abe and Miranda, make them the leads in his disquieting, fantasy 'rom-com' "Dark Horse" and then set them up for our ridicule, (the 'comedy' comes from how much we laugh at these characters rather than with them). Abe is fat, unattractive and obnoxious with it and Jordan Gelber plays him superbly. Miranda is a would-be beauty who has let herself go; let herself go to the extent that she is prepared to marry Abe, a man she doesn't even like let alone love. Selma Blair plays her as a one-dimensional loser making her equally difficult to like. Abe lives at home with his parents, (brilliant performances from Christopher Walken and Mia Farrow), and works for his dad, though to be honest he doesn't do much work.
This is typical Solondz; a miserablist, myopic vision of humanity but without the brilliance that distinguished earlier pictures like "Welcome to the Dollhouse" and "Happiness". If I describe this as a 'pathetic' picture I don't mean that it's bad. It's very well written, directed and acted, (Donna Murphy is terrific as the secretary who fuels Abe's fantasies), but it's full of people you would cross town, never mind the street, to avoid and whatever handicaps you might have yourself it makes you glad you're not like anyone up there on the screen.
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