“A Stable for Disabled Horses”
A Surprise Party
Kanoute (Daniel Simonsen) decides to move back home to Norway and his beast friend, Benny (Daniel Swan), throws him a surprise party for just the two of them. We realize that Benny has a secret to share with Kanoute but we do not know if this something he wants to hear.
This is one of those rare films that is both humorous and perceptive at the same time, Fabio Youniss both wrote the screenplay and directed and he does so as if we are eavesdropping on a conversation in which one man tries to express his real feelings for another who just happens to be his best friend.
Kanoute is delighted to be with Benny but he becomes increasingly concerned over the direction that Benny’s conversation is heading, in particular when his going away present happens to be a T-shirt with a photo of the two of them on the front of it.
Daniel Swan who packs an emotional punch as Benny; a scruffy individual, ever stumbling for the right words to say. Yet behind his rambling dialogue lies a poignant insight into a life filled with pain; from a devout father who saw his love to dance as unmanly, if not the work of the devil, to the incessant verbal abuse he’s subjected to at work; a homophobic environment tolerated so as to be with his co-worker and friend Kanoute.
This is an intimate film and I suspect that it is filmed in black and white to let us know that this is serious stuff here. Yet this is not a serious film—we get all of the emotions as if we are on a roller coaster going through them. There are some wonderful one-liners with great transfer value but there are also very sensitive parts of the film. Benny relates his dream of opening a stable for disabled horses, one where they can be free just as he would like to be with Kanoute. Benny sees the occasion as the last chance he has to tell Kanoute how he feels realizing that this could end their friendship.
With a premise as simple as this, the pressure is on for this short to deliver on substance. It does so wonderfully. The pacing perfect, keeping the momentum going as the jokes are delivered with expert timing. Daniel Swann’s charm and slight creepiness guides Daniel Simosen’s impeccable cluelessness to unease, as it becomes obvious that there is more to this friendship in Benny’s eyes. The movie was improvised throughout and the director allows the actors to go where they want. He just paces them as befits the subject. This is a comedy but with a darkness that looms in the distance and falls upon the audience so unexpectedly and so smoothly that it takes you completely unawares. Youniss lets the camera run as Benny tells Kanoute about his father, and how he reacted to Benny’s love of dancing. Daniel Swann’s performance in this short time keeps the humor going while unsettling you in your seat. The insecure Benny is unveiled as a rich, nuanced character, ultimately endearing and subtly tragic.
Everything is understated, genuine and touching and it is also intelligent and funny. It does exactly what it sets out to do: make you laugh and make you think.