This film, Thoroughbreds, gives us another look into the minds of cold-hearted, shallow, and borderline sociopath teenagers as they find meaning in their young lives while finding out their identity. Think Heathers or Alpha Dog in the sense that these young adults have no reality of the consequence to their actions. Told in a dark comedy format, writer Cory Finley (Sauna) in his directorial debut brings us a film that showed tons of promise but even packed with great acting and an interesting plot didn’t quite pass the finish line with a theme or meaning to the film.
This dark and somewhat disturbing movie stars Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch, Split) Lily, and Olivia Cooke (Bates Motel) Amanda, who is phenomenal in this movie. Cooke was great in Bates Motel but she takes it to another level with this one. Anya I am starting to become a little bit obsessed with. Whether I like the movie she is in or not, every time I see her on screen she just keeps my attention. Both women are wonderful actress. They play former besties who drifted apart as they got older but suddenly cross paths again and believe they can help each other out with devising a plan of execution to Lily’s overbearing and creepy at times step-father.
Lily and Olivia are both different characters in the film that I think helps balances out the two as well as give us range in characters to see on screen and how they mesh well together for the audience’s entertainment. Lily, who grew up more in the upper class frame, smart, nice accomplishments vs. Amanda, who is witty, fearless, apathy, which makes her an outcast or social pariah clash in the beginning but from a bit of co-dependence for each other. The dialogue they share reading each other through their questions, and long eye piercing stares is great as they slowly open themselves up and become a little vulnerable as both of them have a hard shell around them that is hard to break through.
There were scenes that I did find funny and unbelievable because you don’t come across human beings like this on a daily basis. At least in my current world I don’t. So you find it intriguing and sometimes funny when you see a feeling or lack thereof played out. In particular a scene where Amanda teaches Lily how to cry on cue is both hilarious and also creepy in a way. I will say as I expected a lot of dialogue in the film to take most of the space of this movie. I also expected more of a thriller vibe or just having the last act or the second and third act is the repercussions of their actions. In the process of executing the plan of the murder of the stepfather (Paul Sparks), we get a glimpse into the relationship between Lily and her stepdad and also the current status of their family as a whole. It isn’t the perfect life at all but from lily’s perspective, we see how her warped mind feels this is the only way to solve her problems.
This is where the movie falls off for me. Her reasoning for wanting to get rid of her stepfather is not grounds for death. I’m suddenly watching this film in a way as if I am supposed to be sympathetic with Lily and her plight starts to look ridiculous which takes out some of the fun out of it. To help with keeping my attention is Anton Yelchin. In his last film role before his passing, Yelchin plays drug dealer and dreamer Tim who crosses paths with Lily and Amanda and is hired to be the one to do the deed and in exchange receive a large sum of money. His exchange with the two girls is great, and his scenes are entertaining to watch as no matter what character he plays, he has that corky sense of style and charm that makes you want to hear every word he has to say. His part in the movie is smaller than I would have hoped, but appreciative that he was a part of the movie. A big part as to why I wanted to see it. Yelchin is the only character that shows any sense of life, ambition, and emotion through the film. Tim being a guy with no real job or money to take care of himself, he is seen as the “loser” with nothing to lose which kind of gives this idea of how upper class and middle to lower class intertwine and clash with one another.
The pre meditated assumptions of how each one is and who they are was interesting to see but you don’t really get a sense that this theme is what this movie is about. Also by the end of this film, you are not really sure what you are supposed to take or gain from the film. If it was just to witness the depth of how some human beings can go towards a dangerous direction, then mission accomplished but I think Finley had more in mind for his first go around in the director’s chair. Was it to show the lack of love and empathy from parent to child and how it affects someone? Maybe it was to show a cry for help to those who pretend not to need or want to be close to anyone but deep down there is fragile vulnerable person waiting to be liked and loved? Was it about social class? I unfortunately didn’t catch the climax I was meant to feel therefore took some of the entertainment out of the movie bringing it down to just a Stanley Kubrick or Wes Anderson style of storytelling where everything is so ambiguous, it’s up to you to make sense of what you saw.
The film got a little boring in some parts of the movie; I was curious how it was going to end so the film had that going for them. A recommendation to see this film right away in theatres is not one you will get from me. Is it a must see movie? I think you can find more entertaining movies out there with similar plots. Stoker comes to mind with Nicole Kidman and Mathew Goode. That was a great movie with a dark tone and inhuman behavior telling a dark story of murderous and sinister thoughts being played out in front of you. I don’t desire to see this movie again, but I know that there has to be a deeper meaning into what I watched and I would gladly welcome anyone to share their opinions of the film as to why they liked it. So see it if you don’t mind a slow and quite execution with more dialogue than thrills. It is very well acted and it does have a smart script just too much ambiguity for me. I do see an audience for this film. By the end of this film, you will understand where the movie got it’s title.
3 out of 5
Thank you for reading this review. Let me know what you thought of the film. Are you a fan of Thoroughbreds? Comment below and remember: every movie has at least one fan. I’ll see you at the movies.