Thoroughbreds (2017)

Thoroughbreds
Director: Cory Finley
Writer: Cory Finley
Cast: Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy, Anton Yelchin, Paul Sparks, Francie Swift, Kaili Vernoff
Seen on: 14.3.2021

Content Note: ableism/saneism

Plot:
Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Amanda (Olivia Cooke) used to be friends when they were children, but they haven’t seen each other in a long time. Now Amanda’s mother has asked Lily to hang out with her again since Amanda got quite a reputation after an incident with her horse. And Amanda is weird, no doubt about it. But despite initial awkwardness, they bond over their mutual dislike for Lily’s stepdad Mark (Paul Sparks) – which leads to a plan that could solve their problem.

Thoroughbreds has excellent performances and a good sense of style, but also an ending that ruined the film for me, unfortunately.

The film poster showing Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Amanda (Olivia Cooke) sitting as far away from each other as possible on a white couch in a white room wearing white and gray.

I just saw while preparing this review that Thoroughbreds is billed as a comedy and I don’t understand that categorization at all. I don’t think that the film has one funny moment. That doesn’t mean that it is bad, but I’d say be careful with expecting laughter here.

What the film does have is two charismatic leads. Cooke and Taylor-Joy are great together, and I really loved how they bounced off of each other. Their unlikely attraction to each other feels incredibly natural. Yelchin is a nice counterbalance to these two so very self-possessed girls, bringing a tragedy to Tim that grounds the character, despite his more overdrawn characteristics (maybe that is the comedy part that I didn’t see?).

Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Amanda (Olivia Cooke) showing Tim (Anton Yelchin) into Lily's house.

The story is quite engaging, though not particularly mind-blowing. Until the last twist that kind of ruined everything for me a little. [SPOILER] Basically, Lily sets Amanda up to take the blame when Lily kills her stepfather. At the last moment, she has second thoughts, though, and reveals her plan to Amanda, explaining that she thought that Amanda wouldn’t mind spending the rest of her life in prison or a psychiatric facilty because she doesn’t feel emotions. And Amanda basically agrees with her and tells Lily to go ahead with her plan. [/SPOILER] I find this troubling because “not feeling emotions” is something we ascribe to mentally ill and neurodiverse people and saying that this somehow makes these lives not worth living is the road to eugenics. It’s halfway there already.

If the film had found a better ending, I think I would have liked it more than average. But with that ending, average it is at best. It’s a pity.

Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Amanda (Olivia Cooke) in Lily's garden.

Summarizing: proceed with caution.

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