The Reel Review

B+

Sarah (Alison Brie) is a shy, sweet, socially awkward woman who lives a simple, lonely life. She works at an arts and crafts shop, routinely visiting the horse she once owned and spending her nights at home watching a fantasy crime TV series as armor to protect her from some traumatic prior life events. When strange occurrences start happening – sleepwalking, nosebleeds, losing track of time, waking up in strange places – Sarah’s reality starts unraveling into a mish-mash of conspiracy theories about clones, time shifting and alien abductions in this drama on Netflix.

Despite a somewhat clunky and at times bizarre plot that requires a bit of patience, Brie (GLOW, Community) is exceptional in channeling the heartbreaking loneliness, disorientation and despair of a person undergoing a psychotic break from reality. Director Jeff Baena (The Little Hours, Life After Beth) actually takes us inside the mind of Sarah, enabling us to experience firsthand the dizzying blend of reality and psychotic fantasy. Molly Shannon is excellent as Sarah’s kind-hearted co-worker, as is John Reynolds (Stranger Things) as her compassionate and sweet would-be new boyfriend.

For anyone who themselves has dealt with or has had a loved one in the throes of mental illness, the cleverly written yet strangely named Horse Girl is profoundly relatable and an absolutely heartbreaking film worth seeing.

REEL FACTS

Alison Brie and Dave Franco

• Alison Brie, who is married to actor Dave Franco, co-wrote Horse Girl with director Jeff Baena based partly on mental health issues she has experienced within her own family.

• In the film, the colors blue and grey represent Sarah’s more lucid moments while peach represents her more psychotic moments.

Jeff Baena and Aubrey Plaza

• Director Jeff Baena is in a long term relationship with actress Aubrey Plaza.

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