The Dark Horse Opens to Acclaim in US
James Napier Robertson’s film The Dark Horse, starring the “magnetic” Cliff Curtis, has opened in the United States to glowing reviews from critics.
Robert Abele, writing for the Los Angeles Times, said: “star Curtis is so heartbreakingly convincing in the lead role that he routinely frees you of the feeling you’re watching one more adversity saga with scrappy kids and a third-act tournament.
“The movie mark[s] a sensitive, low-key approach to outsiders of any kind, one that legitimises their struggle without selling them as ready-made saints.
“Curtis, a magnetic actor sporting a weight gain and haphazardly shorn pate that make him unrecognisable from his Fear the Walking Dead duties, plays Genesis ‘Gen’ Potini, a onetime chess prodigy whose bipolar disorder ensured a life in and out of mental institutions. (He was the subject of a 2003 documentary that inspired this film.)
“The Dark Horse is indeed anchored by a deceptively lived-in performance that, supported by an understanding filmmaker, goes a long way toward conveying the hardship of simply trying to manage one’s weaknesses while nurturing and sharing those hidden strengths.”
In the New York Times, Stephen Holden named it the Critics’ Pick, saying the movie “rides on the impassioned performance of Cliff Curtis.”
“[Dark Horse] skillfully weaves together two strands. It is a power struggle between [Gen and his brother Ariki, played by Wayne Hapi] for the soul of Mana [James Rolleston, the title character in Boy], who is torn between the values of his angry, hypermacho father and his gentle giant of an uncle.”
The Dark Horse was shot in Gisborne and Auckland in 2013.
Original article by Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times, March 31, 2016.
Photo by Steve King / Broad Green Picture.