He cast Dylan Baker as a paedophile and caused a huge controversy with the film, which was rejected by Sundance, dropped by its US distributor, though gained acclaim in Europe, taking out the Cannes Critics Prize. It also made a star of Philip Seymour Hoffman, who in the story played a chubby lonely man who believed he was in love with the stick-thin Lara Flynn Boyle though came to realise his true feelings were for his friend, the considerably larger Camryn Manheim.
Again, she doesn't love him but she agrees to marry him anyway. Despite the Dark Horse of the title, the film has been deemed lighter than Solondz's usual fare. I know there is humour but it's so muted, so muffled in a way by the pathos. So just because it may not have any of the 'controversial' subject matter, this doesn't make it lighter.
To me, it's somewhat heavy because it's so sorrowful. I find this is something I can relate to as I see a lot of people suffer from this in different ways. There would be no cosmetic surgery otherwise. I don't know, but this is a common enough scenario.
I'm not so interested in explaining it, but I'm moved by Abe's predicament and by his family. Mia Farrow as his mother is very enabling and wants him to still be a child whereas Donna Murphy as his friend wants him to be an adult. So for all the bad misfortunes that he endures, one after the other, for me the redemptive moment is at the end where there is this fantasy of him dancing.
There is a good plot twist there as well. Blair had previously appeared in his film Storytelling, another controversial story where her petite student character appeared in a raunchy sex scene with her well-built, middle-aged black creative writing professor—though this movie did make it to Sundance.
Even if Blair had maintained a friendship with the director, she wasn't expecting to be cast in the lead in his new movie, given a decade had passed. They were just real. I didn't know in Storytelling if that was a rape scene or just life. People get in over their heads. Although I'd love the paycheck! I wish I had that kind of fame so I could have more freedom. But at the same time I am more of an independent girl and I have a dry sense of humour.
But this is in my head and is not really relevant so much to the experience of watching the movie. Solondz, though, says it was a challenge to keep the year-old still. His hair is like rock'n'roll so I gave him a toupe to make him more normal. He's not the central character so he can't stick out in that way. I think he blended in nicely. Though since Solondz lives in a small New York apartment with little free space, he has never been much of a collector himself.
What does collecting even mean? What meaning accrues from owning all of these things? I don't want to psychoanalyse too much but I think it's symptomatic of the consumerist society, of the infantilisation that is encouraged, so that governments go about doing their thing while we play our video games.
It wouldn't have made any sense. My interests are different so I have to be satisfied with a more limited audience. There are a lot of more commercial marketable ideas that I have that I could pursue but for whatever reason I am most compelled to pursue these unprofitable movies!
I am grateful to have any audience! I should emphasise that it is the production itself that is a nightmare. I do quite enjoy casting and I do quite enjoy the editing process and music and so forth.
I enjoy working with actors but on a low budget movie like this, you are always in a hurry. So the work with the actors usually takes place in the casting room because there's so little time and you are more worried about locations falling through and overtime and things like that.
Time management is a big part of the job. You never have enough shooting days, but it's just the nature of the beast.