subscribe: Posts | Comments

Thoroughbreds – Movie Review

Comments Off on Thoroughbreds – Movie Review

Thoroughbreds – Movie Review

Rating: B (Good)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Universal Pictures

The dark comedy is a careful balancing act, requiring the audience to laugh at truly terrible events. By putting primary focus on the two leads and letting Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy give the proper life and motivation to their characters, first-time director/writer Cory Finley creates a snappy teen picture that is sure to invite immediate comparisons to Heathers. Cooke and Anton Yelchin’s performances even recall Winona Ryder and Christian Slater in their break-out roles. There is almost a play-like structure to the way Thoroughbreds tells its story and that works to the film’s advantage, although Finley takes a good while to truly get the wheels turning.

The chemistry between Cooke and Taylor-Joy is evident early on with the two verbally exchanging dialogue and slowly getting to know each other. Cooke’s dry humour delivers the needed nervous chuckles, while Taylor-Joy presents a young woman trying to come to grips with her terrible step-father. Multiple scenes consist of merely the two of them and there’s an uncertainty in how their friendship will progress. Yet that they are believable as friends is key to the film’s success. Despite the dark content, Finley prefers to let the truly violent and shocking moments play out off-screen. That shows a degree of respect for the audience and proves Finley doesn’t just want to be shocking for the sake of it.

Anton Yelchin, in sadly his final film role, shows what a capable young actor he was and there are layers to Tim one doesn’t necessarily anticipate. His interactions with Amanda and Lily provide some humourous back-and-forths, but without taking away from their special bond. Finley also smartly keeps Thoroughbreds short and snappy at only ninety minutes. There is a temptation nowadays to aim for the two hour runtime, but this movie would have lost steam had it been longer. It does have its slower moments where one wishes the momentum would keep moving. Thoroughbreds mostly relies on the girls to keep our attention, although one of the best shots is one where little is happening. It’s difficult to pull that off without coming across as showing off.

Rather than go for laugh-out-loud humour, Thoroughbreds’s comedy is a bit more subtle. Each audience member will get a laugh out of different things. While many will certainly think of Heathers, Finley’s approach to this sort of material is different than what Michael Lehmann and Daniel Waters put on screen in their unflinching teenage comedy. While Heathers went for the camp approach, Thoroughbreds prefers to keep things contained and a bit more down-to-earth. Both tactics do work. Neither Amanda and Lily are truly sympathetic and yet their motivations make a degree of sense within the film’s story. The main relationship also recalls the two leads of Peter Jackson’s early effort Heavenly Creatures.

Thoroughbreds doesn’t go down as one of the great teenage comedies, but one appreciates how it challenges the audience. It’s a solid screenplay slightly elevated by the strong performances bringing the words to life. While some scenes feel like throwaway moments, they are still rather entertaining and amusing and Cory Finley brings us into this world of barren mansions and girls who want to break the rules to get rid of the boredom. This marks the start of a promising career for Finley and one can imagine he will improve and make even stronger films in the future as he certainly has a way with words and actors.


Stefan Ellison

Stefan Ellison