Observations: Looking on the bright side of a Dark Horse

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Given Todd Solondz's reputation for controversy, his sidestepping of provocative subject matter makes his new film, Dark Horse, seem almost quaint in comparison with his masterwork, Happiness.

A putative romantic comedy coupling an infantilised male and a female depressive, the movie flips the man-child genre peddled by Judd Apatow.

Where The 40 Year Old Virgin aimed for big laughs, Dark Horse is so downbeat that even Solondz admits: "I never really laugh at any of it, even when it's funny."

Film-making doesn't always give him much joy, either. He likes the writing, casting and editing, but finds the filming painfully stressful.

"It is a mystery to me [why I do it]. Some people thrive on this process; I don't have the personality. But there is a gratification from having gone through it that's hard to articulate."

It also helps keep the demons at bay. "If I am not being productive it's not good for me," Solondz reveals. "I am inclined to depression and creative work is a good distraction from one's own internal life."

Making a movie is inherently "a great act of optimism", he says, because you have to believe that "you're not going to be humiliated, that you will survive it."

'Dark Horse' is released on 29 June