Horse Girl

Horse Girl ★★★½

Rotten Tomatoes: 71%
Metacritic Metascore: 61
IMDB: 5.9


Release Date: 07 February 2020
Distributor: Netflix

2020 Ranked
Netflix Ranked

Sarah: "My mom used to say that I have an overactive imagination."

SYNOPSIS: Sarah, a socially isolated woman with a fondness for arts and crafts, horses, and supernatural crime shows finds her increasingly lucid dreams trickling into her waking life.

Horse Girl is an achingly sad movie. In the first act of the film, I found the character development to be beautifully executed and I was rooting for Sarah. I was originally thinking that the film would slowly progress into an offbeat rom-com and was really surprised when it didn't. It's got a dark side to it.

It seems that many people think it's only about mental illness, but there is one detail that many seem to overlook in the very beginning. If you watch the first few minutes, when they are talking about ancestry-like DNA tests, you will notice that when the conversation concludes, Sarah walks away and Joan notices out the window that there is a horse in the parking lot - she catches just a quick glimpse of it and makes a strange face (about 2:30 into the film). At the end of the film when Sarah is walking her horse (which she took without permission) she walks past the shop and it shows the exact same frame and Joan's reaction to the horse being in the parking lot. (1 hour 35 minutes 45 seconds approx.) If you look closely the same cars are in the parking lot and you can also see Sarah standing with Joan proving this is intended to be the same scene as the one in the beginning. This would mean she actually did jump back in time.

One thing I loved about this movie was that the focus was on just observing Sarah and empathetically inhibiting her mindset without judgment or explanation. I think this could be off-putting for some viewers but if you're interested in psychology and how people work, this movie will be very interesting for you.

Personally, I think the overall message of this movie is that the mind of a mentally ill person is not to be dismissed outright because their experiences will feel real to them, which is a very empathetic and true point to make. My favorite scene in the movie made this clear when Sarah's social worker Ethan told Sarah that he appreciated that the experiences she described were 100% her truth.

Lastly, I want to mention the acting. Alison Brie was the star of the show and created a believable character and she played both the small and big moments perfectly. Molly Shannon also managed to create a specific and three-dimensional character with a short amount of screen time. I loved the scene where she tried to advise Sarah to put aside any negative thoughts, this perfectly satirized the well-meaning but misguided ally to anyone suffering from any aspect of mental health.

It is an extreme slow-burn self-characterization piece that will probably put off many whose interest begins waning after the first 30 minutes, so I can definitely see many having a hard time making it through.

Overall, this move was really insightful. I'd recommend to anyone who likes a character-based film or who has a strong interest in psychology.

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