Review: Savvy THOROUGHBREDS has a dark and satirical edge

March 15, 2018

Courtesy of Focus Features

Two teens forge an interesting friendship in the new dark comedy "Thoroughbreds." An edgy, sharp and satirical take on the confines of small social cliques and circles. Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy sit at the center of Cory Finley's film. They play Amanda and Lily, who at once were childhood besties only to have grown apart in recent years. Lily is paid off by Amanda's mother just to "hang out" with her - and Lily constantly struggles to deal with her pain in the ass stepfather named Mark (Paul Sparks). Told over the course of four chapter sections, the plot really starts to warm up when Lily and Amanda start to find that connection they once lost, and plot to kill Mark because of how miserable Amanda is living under his roof. Of course, they can't do it themselves, so they enlist in a tasteless drug dealer - (Anton Yelchin - in his final on screen performance and devastating reminder of the actor we loss in 2016) - to carry out the mission. And over a game of life size chess in the backyard, the psychological mind games have already begun in the small Connecticut town where this takes place.

 

The best aspect in "Thoroughbreds," aside from the witty shade and humor thrown at us consistently, is the dynamic between Lily and Amanda. Each so different yet so alike at the same time. Even when Amanda isn't quoting Steve Jobs or betting in online poker, she still has that mild affection for Lily, despite the fact she "has no feelings." And Lilly, who at first is very reserved, grows into this mature and edgy indivudal.My favorite scene was when Mark, in a devilish veneer, asks Amanda to go home, and her and Lily tag team, strategically, like partners in a cage match and wear him down till he relents and goes upstairs. That's some clever staging. Finley is also smart to use a variety of wide angled shots to show the stare down matches that transpire frequently between the two leads. Which Cooke and Taylor-Joy both deserve the utmost credit for, they carry this movie exceptionally.

 

What you get with "Thoroughbreds" is not some watered down PG13 teen thriller with all the answers grounded out for you, rather a savvy and unapologetic look into the not-so ordinary lives of two teenagers with odd habits. This movie hits hard.

 

Grade: B+

 

 

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