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Thoroughbreds (2018) Review

Time: 92 Minutes
Anya Taylor-Joy as Lily Reynolds
Olivia Cooke as Amanda
Anton Yelchin as Tim
Paul Sparks as Mark
Francie Swift as Mrs. Reynolds
Director: Cory Finley

Childhood friends Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Amanda (Olivia Cooke) reconnect in suburban Connecticut after years of growing apart. Lily has turned into a polished upper-class teenager who has a fancy boarding school on her transcript and a coveted internship on her resume. Amanda has developed a sharp wit and her own particular attitude but all in the process of becoming a social outcast. Though they initially seem completely at odds, the pair eventually bond and hatch a plan to solve both of their problems.

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Thoroughbreds was one of my most anticipated films of 2018. There was quite a lot of buzz for it already but with Anya Taylor-Joy, Olivia Cooke and Anton Yelchin involved, I was especially hyped for it. Thoroughbreds had actually been out for quite a while in other countries but for some reason didn’t come to New Zealand cinemas. I finally found a way to watch it and having seen it, I can say that it lived up to the hype. Thoroughbreds is a unique and darkly comedic thriller that is really effective and deserves more love and attention.

The script by Cory Finley was originally written for the stage and you can definitely feel that, from the movie being very dialogue driven, to the staging of certain scenes, and it the fact that the movie has title cards separating the film into chapters. Admittedly the movie is a little slow at first but that’s really the only criticism I have. Thoroughbreds is a dialogue heavy movie and the dialogue itself is sharp, strong and really works. It is also a darkly comedic movie, so it’s entertaining despite it being about two girls plotting to murder one of their stepfathers. The script is very well written overall by Finley. Thoroughbreds is about an hour and 30 minutes long, which was a good length overall, aside from the early moments I was fully into the movie.

Anya Taylor-Joy and Olivia Cooke were absolutely fantastic as the leads, they share perfect chemistry. You really buy them as estranged friends reconnecting, with both of them being similar but different to each other. Cooke’s character doesn’t feel anything and is borderline sociopathic and Taylor-Joy’s character is a narcissist who isn’t quite how she initially appears. It’s interesting watching these characters interact, as they reveal hidden layers of themselves and change over time. While Cooke initially is more the standout at the beginning, as the film progresses Anya really shines as we see more layers to her character and when she makes certain decisions. It’s the little the little subtleties that she shows that particularly makes the performance work so well. The supporting cast are quite good but the stand out is Anton Yelchin. This is sadly the last performance of his career, and honestly this might one of his best performances, he stole every scene he was in. Here he plays a low time drug dealer who Anya and Olivia’s characters blackmail, and Yelchin is very funny and he plays his role so well. He is very much a supporting actor, and you don’t see him a ton, but he was nonetheless great in all of his scenes. All 3 performances were excellent really.

Cory Finley did pretty well for a directorial debut. The cinematography is sharp and really is great. At times the way its staged does almost make it feel like a play, which makes sense considering how the script was already written. The soundtrack is full of beats and other weird noises which only builded up the tension and vibe of the whole movie. As the film continues on you can really feel the tension growing, which of course is helped by the script, dialogue and performances.

Thoroughbreds has a great script, fantastic performances from Anya Taylor-Joy, Olivia Cooke and Anton Yelchin and is a solid directorial debut by Cory Finley. I feel like this little unique movie will become more beloved as it gains more attention. At the moment I think it’s one of the best films of the year and I definitely think that it is worth checking out.