Monday, March 19, 2018

Movie Review: "Thoroughbreds" (2018)

Director: Cory Finley
Year: 2018
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 32 minutes

An affluent teen named Lily and her friend Amanda, who lacks the capacity to feel emotions, hatch a plan to murder Lily's stepfather.

"Fucking evil kids!"

While watching "Thoroughbreds," a quote from "Titanic" popped into our heads: "I know what you're thinking, 'poor little rich girl, what does she know about misery?'" This quote applies to one of the characters in this film just as much as it applied to Rose in 1997. "Thoroughbreds" serves as the writing and directing debut of Cory Finley. It stars Olivia Cooke as Amanda, a teenager who seems to lack the capacity to feel any and all emotions. She tends to look at things in a cold, calculated, logical manner and never factors how her actions will make herself or other people feel. Joining Cooke is Anya Taylor-Joy as Lily. Lily was Amanda's friend when they were kids, but has distanced herself from her after an incident which made Amanda a bit of a social pariah. Lily has recently started hanging out with Amanda again after initially being paid to do so by Amanda's mother. Through conversations with Amanda, Lily reveals her big problem. Lily can feel emotions and has a strong hatred towards her stepfather Mark (Paul Sparks). Amanda, casually and in the coldest, most unfeeling way possible, suggests that the only logical solution would be to murder him. Sounds like trouble.

This is a slow-burning dramatic thriller, perhaps a little too slow. Much of the story focuses on the relationship between Lily and Amanda, two teenagers with vastly different problems. Amanda feels too little and Lily feels way too much, though not in the most constructive way and not always about the right people. This film shows how things like affluence can lead to a lack of empathy for others. Lily has grown up here entire life coddled in every way imaginable. She leaves all of her problems, no matter how small, for other people to take care of and has never had to deal with any repercussions of her actions.

There are a lot of interesting visuals here, as well as many well framed, striking camera shots. We have no doubt director Cory Finley will do great things throughout his career. Also, the two leads do an excellent job in their respective parts. Olivia Cooke remains stoic as her role requires and Taylor-Joy gets to be a bit more nuanced and actually gets to show some emotion. This film also contains the final on-screen performance of Anton Yelchin, who tragically passed away in 2016. Even though he plays a relatively small part, he still gives an exceptional performance as the skeezy drug dealer with big dreams in mind for his future. Seeing Yelchin on the big screen one last time made us really sad knowing his talents will not be around any longer.

"Thoroughbreds" takes its time to get to its ultimate destination and builds slowly to its climax. This may be a problem for some viewers because slow pacing has a tendency to make a story feel boring at times. For us, there is enough here to keep us interested, though we will admit we were not fully riveted every single second of its runtime. This kind of pacing makes it feel longer than it is, though it's not really that long in the first place. There is a good atmosphere in the movie, but one thing it lacks is palatable tension. Like one of the main characters, it is missing some emotional oomph. Still, we think this movie is worth seeking out due to its wonderful direction and acting.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: ~7.3/10
RT Rating: ~83%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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