‘Thoroughbreds’ is an American thriller written and directed by a playwright-turned-filmmaker Cory Finley, starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Olivia Cooke, late Anton Yelchin, Paul Sparks and Francie Swift. The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2017 and is now in the official competition at the London Film Festival.
The first thing that comes to mind thinking about the ‘Thoroughbreds‘ film is ‘brilliant’. It is Finley‘s directorial debut and it is indeed an absolutely fantastic and confident first feature.
‘Thoroughbreds’ tells a story of two young privilege girls in the affluent suburbs of Connecticut rekindling their friendship after years growing apart.
A high school senior Amanda (Olivia Cooke) returns to school and to the society after killing her horse. The incident had such a big impact on her family and peers that Amanda was proclaimed psychopath and sent away. Amanda is a complex character, she is very self-aware thinking that she is incapable of experiencing any emotions, saying “I’ve a perfectly healthy brain,” “It just doesn’t contain feelings.” She never feels joy or sadness, she has to fake laughter and tears. Amanda has no friends, she does not care about the school, dreaming to “Steve Job her way through life”.
Lilly (Anya Taylor-Joy) on the сontrary, seems to be a very normal girl from a private boarding school who is annoyed and even freaked by Amanda. As the story unfolds, we learn that Lilly only hangs out with Amanda, because she’s been paid by Amanda’s mother to tutor her. But it’s only later we find out that Amanda’s sociopathy is what makes her a very convenient friend for Lilly. Lilly turns out to be a complete opposite of Amanda, the type of a person who feels too much. We learn that she is surviving at home trying to co-exist with her mother’s new husband (Paul Sparks) an unpleasant but very rich fitness fanatic Mark. It is the last straw when Amanda finds out about Mark’s decision to send her away to a new school for “girls with behavioural issues”. Both girls come up with a plan and plot Mark’s murder. United by a common goal, girls bully a local drug-dealer (Yelchin) into helping them achieve it. And that’s when the story takes a new turn.
Cory Finley’s new film is a black comedy and a psycho-triller about two amoral girls of the high society. It is a stunning work with strong visuals accompanied by Erik Friedlander’s percussive soundtrack that works a treat. All of the actors are striking: Anya Taylor-Joy as a latent psychopath, Olivia Cooke as an emotionally drained sociopath and Anton Yelchin, brilliant and mesmerizing to watch in his final role of a small-minded loser. Although the film is terrifying, it is also very funny. It’s not a story of two bored privilege students testing their limits but a story of psychopathy and a lesson that people are not always how they seem to be.