'Horse Girl' Review With Casey
Since movie theaters are closed to everyone, I watched a film through the streaming platform of Netflix called Horse Girl (released earlier this year). Sometimes a film is described as "mainstream" to explain its wide-ranging appeal and entertainment value to the largest audience possible. Horse Girl is not one of those films. So far, Jeff Baena has only directed darkly twisted comedies like The Little Hours (2017) and Life After Beth (2014). But Horse Girl is a quiet experimental drama about grief, isolation, and mental illness.
Alison Brie (Community, 2009-2015) plays an awkward young woman recovering from unknown trauma and mysterious family issues while living on her own. Zero romance and few friendships fill her life except for an overbearing infatuation with a horse she used to ride as a child. Something seems off with this woman. But the ordinary story takes its time...and then takes a left turn into something strange, so your questions about this woman may not be answered clearly. Alison Brie's performance is so well-balanced between desperate loneliness and tense fragility, you feel she might shatter at any moment.
I'm not going to lie. This film gets weird, and it abandons traditional narrative storytelling which makes the whole experience confusing and unnerving. But that's a brilliantly purposeful way Horse Girl forces viewers to feel a part of what mental illness is like. Blurring the line between dreams and reality, you won't know what you're looking at in some moments. But Horse Girl proves to be an emotional film that tells a story of mental illness seriously with earnest sensitivity and fierce originality. Other character studies of honest, current-day mental illness come to mind like Ingrid Goes West (2017), I Smile Back (2015), and Lars and the Real Girl (2007).
Other recent films that are now available through personal streaming platforms include Emma (a colorful & prim adaptation of the Jane Austen novel), Onward (Pixar is at it again mixing family relationships with another magical world), and Dolemite is My Name (a hilariously bawdy comedy of one man's real-life journey into Blaxploitation films in the 1970s).