THOROUGHBREDS - Well Done in All Aspects Except Getting You Emotionally Involved
The headline reads of the one fault the film has among many strengths but I also question if it’s partially intended by first time director Cory Finley.
When we first meet Amanda and Lily, played note perfect by Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy, we know more is to each of them and slowly learn that while one is devoid of feelings the other cannot help but feel every supposed offense to the fullest. They share a past and drifted but now find themselves in one anothers company mainly due to Amanda’s mother trying her best to activate her daughter’s seeminlgy lost humaninty in many respects. Whether I was ever supposed to pull for either of these women is not clear though. Their ultimate plan, which is part Strangers on a Train with the social aspect of Heathers underneath, has some jusitfication but I never felt invested one way or the other. I was curious as to where it would go but found myself cold towards who may or may not have harm come to either half of the drama.
Compromising that other half is a stellar Paul Sparks as Lily’s step-father who while being your typical alpha male asshole, also has some strong logic for his attitiude towards Lily and what he sees as a spoiled brat who needs a wake up call. He lacks the humanity to deliver this point in a caring way thoughs so truly he is no better or worse than Lily and Amanda. Getting caught in the mix is Anton Yelchin who is supposed to show us the lower end of the class spectrum. We should dislike him due to a past crime he commited but you also partially pity him because you know where he will end up. The late Yelchin is effective as usual in his work but the use of the character seems to fall away at the side. Which again, given certain other messages about the wannabe drug dealer who can only rise as high as failing to sell dime bags to rich kids, his ineffectiveness in the overall plot may be warranted but with no party to truly feel connected to, the overall production comes off as cold.
While there is that disconnect to me as a watcher, the film shows great promise from Finley in future workand for the majority here. The characters are well drawn and revealed in good time. You are always given a bit more information to keep your interest up. Shot extremely focused and scored with one of the more fascinating sountracks in recent memory, it nearly clicks perfectly. The build to the finale is well diagramed as well. It may seem that we make some large leaps in the choices made but extending the film an additional 20 minutes may have treaded on overkill as well.
It’s well shot, extremely well acted (Taylor-Joy and Cooke are going to be names we hear for a long time to come) and smartly paced. I just wish I cared more about the outcome than I did. Regardless I think it has enough to warrant your time and you should absolutley keep an eye on the future of Cory Finley.