Palatable: Dark Horse
Directed and written by Todd Solondz
Produced by Derrick Tseng, Ted Hope, Juan Basanta, Craig Shilowich, Nick Quested
Starring Jordan Gelber, Selma Blair, Mia Farrow, Christopher Walken, Donna Murphy, Justin Bartha, Zachary Booth, Aasif Mandvi
His every pronounced peculiarity disadvantages a huffy, porcine, purblind, puerile, thinning thirtysomething toy collector (Gelber) whose employment under his weary father (Walken) and camaraderie with his doting mother (Farrow) are strained by a boundless immaturity overt as total social ineptitude and an insufferable species of insolence. Smitten with an introverted depressive (Blair) with whom he shares more compassion than congeniality, this liege yet ludicrous man-child mollified by a lifetime of parental pampering rages at every adversity, blaming all save himself for his squandered opportunities. Even in dreams that confront him with distressing insights affirming his shortcomings and self-doubt, apprehensions and affections, he's too rigidly obtuse to accept his lot, or any substantial responsibility. If that line between pitch-black comedy and solemn drama that Solondz toed in previous pictures is even present here, he ignores it entirely, and nowhere are his mingled hilarity and pathos so affecting as in prolonged static shots and zooms. As an exemplar of his stunted generation, Gelber's hilariously, almost brilliantly embarrassing in the lead, his delivery of both blustering ebullience and the deathly pessimism lurking beneath as gracelessly credible as amusing. Aging, bewigged Walken and Farrow are weirdly Ashkenized with dark contacts, and almost as resounding in their staid gloom as Blair, now a polished veteran of miserable characterization. Abounding with obnoxiously shopworn and superficial pop songs mirroring its subject's temperament, this monition from Solondz to Gen-X and millennial audiences regarding the unique strains of inanity and dysfunction proceeding from prosperity and indiscipline may prove more relevant -- and its protagonist less atypical -- with every passing decade.