Thoroughbreds

****

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor Joy in Thoroughbred - two teenage girls in suburban Connecticut rekindle their unlikely friendship after years of growing apart. In the process, they learn that neither is what she seems to be — and that a murder might solve both of their problems.
"The weirdness thrives on understatement" | Photo: Claire Folger

The rich are different. Scott Fitzgerald said something about that. A truism, perhaps? Not really because privilege breeds contempt and contempt makes its own rules.

Rookie director Cory Finley has created a unique atmosphere of high class alienation in which murder is discussed with the same existential unreality as an artist contemplating the use of semen in a portrait of Mary Magdalene.

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Two school friends, Amanda (Olivia Cooke) and Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) meet in Lily's Connecticut home. It is not exactly a social call. Amanda's mother has arranged it, even paid for it, because her daughter suffers from something akin to dyslexia, a blockage of the emotional artery.

Lily has her own problems. After her father died her mother remarried a younger man, called Tim (Anton Yelchin), whom Lily despises. She is locked in a dark place, in her mind, with her prejudice, envying Amanda's lack of feelings.

What does having no feelings mean? Freedom from guilt, freedom from passion? The world with its chaotic beliefs and treacherous outcomes is a mass of contradiction and hardly worth bothering about. Dangerously beautiful, Amanda scowls to avoid any suspicion of enjoyment.

Lily tells her she wants to kill Tim. Amanda wonders, is she serious? Lily is never badly dressed, never warm, always serious.

Tim is a controlled fitness freak, vain to his core, who carries himself like a Hollywood actor playing the part of an international athlete. Lily's mother sun screens and diet trains in the hope that he won't notice the cracks under her skin. Yes, he is hateful. Amanda asks, how do we do it? She doesn't care, one way or another way. Is this a game?

Finley's ability to maintain a fascination for this gilded asylum. which, on the surface, appears mannered and repressed, is unexpected from a filmmaker still in his twenties. The weirdness thrives on understatement, although there is nothing under about the upside of Amanda, who chooses honesty as her weapon of choice.

The plot punctures probability no deeper than Strangers On A Train or Heavenly Creatures while the performances are disciplined and direct, reflecting rich girls' difference.

Cooke (24) studied drama at Oldham Sixth Form College. Taylor-Joy (21) spent her childhood in Argentina and London before escaping to New York at the age of 14. Both are too convincing for comfort.

Reviewed on: 06 Apr 2018
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Two rich girls contemplate murder in Connecticut

Director: Cory Finley

Writer: Cory Finley

Starring: Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy, Anton Yelchin, Kaili Vernoff, Paul Sparks

Year: 2017

Runtime: 90 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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