'The Dark Horse' review: Small gem that deserves big spotlight

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Sandy Kenyon has his latest review in the newsroom

"The Dark Horse" has been called one of the best films to ever come out of New Zealand, and now, it's headed to the United States. But will it find success with American audiences?

The movie, which opens on Friday, is a small gem that deserves a big spotlight.

Cliff Curtis learned to "Fear the Walking Dead" on television, but his big-screen role as "The Dark Horse" is being called his best.

The star gained 60 pounds to play the role of Genesis Potini, Gen for short, a role close to his heart and his heritage. Like Curtis, Gen is a "Maori," one of a group of people who arrived in New Zealand centuries before Europeans got there.

As a young man, Gen shows promise as a chess player until a mental illness blocks his path out of poverty. After being cast aside by his own kin, he finds a home in a local chess club. As Gen suffers from a severe bi-polar disorder, it's enlightening and entertaining to watch him try not to fall short.

But no matter how many sudden outbursts occur, Gen's heart is always in the right place. As you watch the film, you will be rooting for him, his nephew and all of the children society leaves behind.

A scrappy bunch of outsiders triumphs over the forces against them, and although this is hardly a new plot, "The Dark Horse" is certainly worth your time.

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