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Thoroughbreds (A Movie Review)

Updated: Sep 27, 2023



Starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Olivia Cooke, Anton Yelchin, Paul Sparks, Francie Swift, Kaili Vernoff, Chaunty Spillane, Stephanie Atkinson, Max Ripley, Leah Procito, Svetlana Orlova, Xavier Dillingham, Lauren Laperriere, Thomas Dings, Kristen Annese, Daniel Martignetti and Odin Lowe.

Screenplay by Cory Finley.

Directed by Cory Finley.

Distributed by Focus Features. 90 minutes. Not Rated.

Screened at the 2017 Philadelphia Film Festival.

How do you write a review about a movie focused on two privileged teenage girls that, in retrospect, are completely unlikeable, going through the motions of their rich, frustrated lives? It is crazy that I am typing this about a movie that I enjoyed so much. But, truth be told, the main characters and their struggles are ridiculous and puny and not relatable to real life. Well, not my life.

Thoroughbreds is the story of Amanda (played by Olivia Cooke) and Lily (played by Anya Taylor-Joy), two teenage girls with more in common than we are initially led to believe. Both come from wealthy Connecticut families, both have apparently lost their primary father figures, and both are going through a troublesome period in their lives. They were friends in the past, but have lost touch over time. Their paths are made to cross again in this psychological thriller written and directed by Cory Finley.

Amanda is quirky, unnerving, and a little too unfiltered. We indirectly learn that she has had some traumatic situation where her mom now feels it is necessary to pay for a companion for Amanda. She hires Lily to re-friend Amanda in the guise of a tutor/companion.

We learn more about her situation on the periphery, through gossip and whispers. From Amanda, we learn that although her brain is normal, she is unable to experience any feelings. Her therapist hasn’t committed to a diagnosis yet-but make no mistake – Amanda is crazy.

Lily lives in a beautiful house, is well dressed, and presents herself as a well put together young lady. As she opens up to Amanda, her life is exposed as unraveling with its focal point being her controlling stepfather, Mark (played by Paul Sparks) who threatens her resources, onward education, and future. Her mother is ineffective and secondary as a mother and character.

The two girls move past the financially arranged friendship and begin spending more time together, eventually hatching a plot to end Mark’s control over Lily.

Anton Yelchin plays Tim, a small time miscreant drug dealer who has done time for statutory rape. He does a great job in this minor role, proving once again, that he was taken from this world far too early. The movie is dedicated to him at the start of the final credits.

The beauty of this movie is in its masterfully written script. It is smart, thought-provoking, and thrilling, with details slowly unfurling to bring the story together. It doesn’t feel crazy while you are watching it, and yet, the characters and subject matter are anything but sane. The score is as quirky as Amanda, filled with unexpected percussion in all of the right places.

Anya Taylor-Joy, as we saw in Split (2016), is made for the distant, winsome yet melancholy heroine. There is something disarming about her that makes you want to feel for her situation. Maybe because of this, after thinking about the characters, plot and story for days after my initial viewing, it is so hard to write about the movie. I feel morally corrupted for caring about her plight. And I can’t wait to watch it again.

Bonnie Paul

Copyright ©2017 All rights reserved. Posted: October 25, 2017.


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