Todd Solondz leans mainstream in 'Dark Horse'

Associated Press
From left, director Todd Solondz, actress Selma Blair, and actor Jordan Gelber pose during the photo call for the movie Dark Horse at the 68th edition of the Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy, Monday, Sept. 5, 2011. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
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VENICE, Italy (AP) — Independent filmmaker Todd Solondz is leaning toward the mainstream in his latest film "Dark Horse," but the irony and insight into dysfunctional families which fans loved in his earlier work remain common place.

Solondz, in a news conference Monday at the Venice Film festival, compared his latest film, starring Mia Farrow and Christopher Walken, to American comedies like "Knocked Up" and "The 40-Year-Old Virgin."

But with the comparison came a warning.

In the movie business "the manchild has been an overused genre," he said. "Frankly if Dark Horse was the end of those movies I would feel I could go to sleep a happy man," he said.

He describes "Dark Horse," about a college dropout mama's boy called Abe — portrayed by Jordan Gelber — as being imbued with a "kind of melancholy."

The film — much of which is reminiscent of other work "Happiness" and "Life During Wartime" — charts the story of a boy who doesn't totally want to grow up. "As much as it's comedy of sorts, I never really laugh," Solondz said of the film.

"Its sorrowful and there is a kind of melancholy ... the main character has so many troubles and serious misfortunes that befall him I feel a kind of tenderness for Abe," he said.

Abe, in his 30s, lives at home and works listlessly at the real estate company of his father, played by Walken. His life is the opposite of his successful brother, a doctor, played by "The Hangover" star Justin Bartha. Farrow plays Abe's mother.

Abe's situation is "very symptomatic of a consumerist society where 'infantilization' is encouraged," ventured Solondz.

"Dark Horse" is in the running for the festival's top honor — the Golden Lion — to be awarded on Sept. 10 at the close of the festival on Venice's Lido island.

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