Two upper-class teenage girls in suburban Connecticut rekindle their unlikely friendship after years of growing apart. Together, they hatch a plan to solve both of their problems-no matter what the cost.
Director: Cory Finley
Writer: Cory Finley
Stars: Anya Taylor-Joy, Olivia Cooke, Anton Yelchin
Cory Finley’s razor-witted black comedy. Taylor-Joy plays Lily, a chipper boarding-school student who rekindles her friendship with estranged childhood bestie Amanda (Olivia Cooke), mostly because the latter’s mother has paid her handsomely to do so. There’s something not quite right about Amanda: She’s done a ghastly thing to her family’s horse—an incident the other kids gossip about relentlessly. And during the girls’ obligatory reunion, Amanda casually confesses that she feels no emotions about anything (and never has, really). She’s an intelligent, spookily self-aware sociopath, and Thoroughbred’s wickedly funny opening stretch promises a twisted mismatched-buddy comedy about an uptight do-gooder under both social and financial obligation to tolerate the “off-putting” behavior of a “creepy” confidante from her past.
But Thoroughbreds isn’t so easily pegged. It’s superbly unpredictable, moving fluidly into thriller territory and back again. Though the late Anton Yelchin pops up in an amusing supporting role as a very small-potatoes drug dealer who gets mixed up in the girls’ misadventures, the film belongs to its leads, both alums of Sundance 2015. Cooke plays her character’s complete lack of feeling to a deadpan hilt, while still managing to make her oddly likable, even sympathetic. Taylor-Joy, meanwhile, really proves that her quaking intensity in The Witch was no fluke, diabolically peeling back Lily’s layers as the film unfolds over four plot-pivoting chapters. Not that a couple of incredible performances is all Thoroughbred has going for it. Finley directs the hell out of it, making particularly good use of offscreen sound (plus the tense tick-tick-tick of an atonal soundtrack) and staging nifty little suspense set-pieces, like one involving the automatic floodlights at Lily’s house. Focus Features has picked it up. All told, I think we have a future teenage-riot cult classic on our hands.
– A.A. Dowd, The AV Club