Sarah slowly goes down this psychological rabbit hole that may be related to the mental breakdowns and deaths of her mother and grandmother. Her brain is drawn to various conspiracy theories stewing in her mind including cloning experiments, and alien abductions??? What’s real and what’s not?
It’s about half-way into the story, and I’m thinking to myself, what the hell is going on? Stuff is really getting weird. I suppose, though, in a good way.
From the beginning, I was locked in and ready to go. For the introvert in us, Alison Brie, as Sarah, is relatable and likable. We’re right there with her fear of going out and meeting new people. There’s that inner introvert battle to remain comfortable right where we are and when pushed to go out, the internal struggle to not screw things up publicly in hopes of finding something or someone good…which Sarah does.
For Sarah, this new boost of self-confidence from meeting “the one,” opens the door to understanding her past and comes face-to-face with her issues as she walks down the parallel path of self-discovery and mental breakdown. And then it all gets weird.
“…she walks down the parallel path of self-discovery and mental breakdown.”
What’s interesting about Horse Girl is its story structure. Sarah’s arc starts in a positive upward direction then at the apex, immediately takes a steep slope downward. There are moments when her life goes briefly again, only to descend again faster. It then ends in a quiet moment of art.
What I’ll say about Horse Girl is…it is what it is. I love the performances all around, and Horse Girl boasts a fantastic cast of well-intentioned friends in Sarah’s life. They all want the best for her, but at some point are not equipped to help her anymore. Late in the film, Jay Duplass enters and becomes this sane, gentle voice that reaches out to us, the audience, as a way of saying, “you’re not going crazy, just keep riding.”
Alison Brie deserves a lot of credit, as her performance is an exercise in progression. As Sarah, she starts relatively healthy and slowly her character drifts out of control and that slow descent is now easy to maintain, like walking down a long staircase, over its 100-minute runtime.
Horse Girl feels more like a cinematic experience than it is a neat and tidy story we’re used to seeing in the cinema. Enter Horse Girl with an open mind and enjoy the ride. Be sure to see it in one sitting, which is one problem the film will face living on Netflix.
Horse Girl screened at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.
"…more like a cinematic experience than it is a neat and tidy story..."