Director Todd Solondz looks for lightness in new "Dark Horse"

Thu Jul 26, 2012 2:21pm EDT
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By Iain Blair

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Director Todd Solondz made his way onto Hollywood's movie map with "Welcome to the Dollhouse," his 1995 independent film about a shy, relentlessly bullied 7th-grade girl that won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize for best drama.

Since then, the New Jersey-born Solondz has explored even darker subject matter - including murder, suicide, rape, child molestation and abortion - in such films as "Happiness," "Storytelling," "Palindromes" and "Life During Wartime."

As dark as the topics may be, Solondz has always injected his peculiar sense of humor into the stories and, with the exception of "Palindromes," his movies have been well-reviewed.

Now comes "Dark Horse, which tells of Abe (Jordan Gelber), an overweight man-child in his 30s still living with his parents (Mia Farrow, Christopher Walken) who romances Miranda (Selma Blair), a depressed young woman who also lives at home.

The film, which has earned good reviews in limited release, opened June 8 in New York and has been touring through cities such as Chicago and San Francisco. It opens in Los Angeles on Friday and upcoming cities include Washington, DC, and Dallas. Solondz spoke with Reuters about his latest movie.

Q: You're often accused of being cruel and perverse to your characters - how do you plead?

A: "Those are the nice things people have called me. I am human and I don't really relish people saying bad things about me, but I understand that my movies always generate an ambivalent response. I wish I had a stronger character and was indifferent to all the criticism. That'd make life much easier. But I'm not."

Q: So describe this film for readers who might be unfamiliar with your past work?   Continued...

Director Todd Solondz poses for a photocall during the 37th American Film Festival in Deauville, September 8, 2011. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau