If you like your comedies dark or your characters deeply eccentric and emotionally fraught, then chances are you’ve stumbled onto the work of writer/director Todd Solondz. The filmmaker found himself a success straight out of NYU, landing a three-picture deal with 20th Century Fox off of the strength of his student films. However, the lack of control and immense disappointment saddled on Solondz during his first feature Fear, Anxiety, And Depression (a potential subtitle for any of his movies) was enough to send him fleeing from the film industry for six years. He returned with the independently financed high school humiliation comedy Welcome To The Dollhouse, which promptly won awards at Berlin and Sundance. He then achieved infamy with his multi-character masterwork Happiness (which notoriously brought a compassionately and frighteningly written pedophile into his harsh comedy world). The self-conscious Storytelling and experimental semi-sequels Palindromes and Life During Wartime followed, inevitably garnering controversy, critical acclaim, and cult appreciation.
Few comedy directors are as fearless or divisive. Solondz has a special knack for latching onto outcasts and discovering the pain and sorrow of their existence through laughs designed to stick in his audience’s throat. Solondz returned to the Toronto International Film Festival this year with his latest movie Dark Horse, his version of the regressed manchild comedies made popular by the Apatow crowd starring Jordan Gelber, Selma Blair (reprising her role from Storytelling), Mia Farrow, and Christopher Walken. Collider got a chance to sit down with the Solondz during his stay in Toronto to discuss his latest feature, his unique sense of humor, his interest in revisiting former characters, and how his movies can so often be misunderstood. Hit the jump for all the Solondzian goodness.