Like a fable told in documentary form, Samira Makhmalbaf’s outraged – and outrageous – Two-Legged Horse is sure to exasperate many western audiences, who won’t be used to seeing such images of abject poverty and abuse. Set in
I’m not sure why Makhmalbaf chose to tell this particular story, but it transfixed me, in the same way that you can’t avert your eyes from a train wreck. The film is so blunt that it forces viewers to come to terms with it immediately. Its director uses forceful images of these two, especially as the legless boy whips his “horse”, ostensibly to create a message about power and poverty. It’s one-note, but at the same time kind of hypnotic, since so much of what it shows is taboo on American movie screens. Like some nightmare version of the Richard Pryor vehicle The Toy, it contains a traditional underdog setup, but refuses the audience the usual payoffs found in that genre.