FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE REVIEW: Last Friday, I saw “Thoroughbreds,” which stars Anya Taylor-Joy (Split , The Witch), Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One, The Signal), Anton Yelchin (Star Trek Into Darkness, Green Room), Paul Sparks (Midnight Special, House of Cards [TV series]), Francie Swift (Cop Out, Two Weeks Notice), and Kaili Vernoff (The Path [TV series], Café Society). It was written and directed by Corey Finley (Sauna). When Amanda (Cooke) notices her friend Lily’s (Taylor-Joy) hatred toward her step-father, they plot to murder him.
If you’re into weird and outlandish, then “Thoroughbreds” is the movie for you! Centered on two once-friends, teenage girls who set out to kill one of their step-fathers, this flick has everything you need from dark, dry humor to bizarre chemistry that couldn’t be further away from the norm. Honestly, I didn’t see too much point to the theme underneath the surface of a girl wanting to murder her step-father, but I’m sure there was one…somewhere. Usually I’m a fan of the awkward and Indie style filmmaking, which is why I was drawn to “Thoroughbreds” in the first place (and I’m sure none of you have even heard of it). However, what I thought would make it a great film actually held it back, as I really can’t pin down how good this movie is. There are solid pros to it, such as the fantastic cinematography and great acting (Anton Yelchin turned in a hands-down brilliant performance), but the story itself takes a toll due to its obsessive nature to be recluse and odd for the sake of being so. It’s the tone the film sets for itself, and while it may work at times, I found it to be a hinderance at others. Let’s break it down (no, not in rap form). Most of this experience is spent in wonderment, with a few questions as to why certain things are the way they are. Why is Amanda emotionless? What suddenly sends Lily over the edge? Why is the chemistry between the two of them so intimate yet distant? None of these are really answered, but they were never meant to be; at least in the filmmaker’s mind, that is. I’m not one for spoon-feeding, but I will say that this movie drags along with such a weight that you often wonder when something will drop in order for you to study it closely. It’s even structured into four chapters (a black screen appears to tell you when a new one has arrived). Why this is, I have no clue; call it a creative decision. Bottom line is, this is an intriguing flick that yearns to be studied. The only problem is, one viewing seems enough for me. Not to say that it was horrible, but it just doesn’t have a rewatchability factor. I was fascinated by these characters, but only because I couldn’t understand them. What I knew was what was handed to me: Amanda has no emotions and Lily is angry at her step-father, slowly ripping away from her politeness to someone ruthless. The conflict is visible, but I know there’s some meaning that goes deeper; I just can’t find it. I like the chemistry between the two leads, no matter how weird it is. Anya Taylor-Joy and Olivia Cooke did a solid job in their respective roles, and the supporting cast held good ground too. Like I stated, Anton Yelchin had the show-stealing part, portraying a drug dealer the girls blackmail into potentially killing the step-father. Since I’ve only seen Yelchin in the rebooted “Star Trek” movie franchise, I never really got to see his range, and I’m both sad and glad I have now (he’s phenomenal, at least in his part). Maybe I’m over-hyping the character because he’s the most concrete and easy to read, as if he’s the audience in this situation, but nonetheless Yelchin knocked it out of the park. As for the other pros, cinematography was awesome. I loved the composition of this piece as well as the location that filled the screen. It screamed Indie, which is a tone I’m always a sucker for (it’s filled with passion from filmmakers looking to make some foot room in the industry). What I failed to realize walking into this one was that the weirdness that exuded in promos would take their own form and never let anyone in. And when I say weird, don’t think “Gentlemen Broncos.” Rather, think dry and awkward that bring the word “weird” to your head. This is a dry experience that begs for round-the-clock attention. I don’t think it was paced poorly, but I do think it’s hard to really sink my teeth into their characters rather than observe them and try to understand what the heck their insides are (odd statement, but true). I never knew what would happen as the movie unfolded, though it’s not like they gave me a lot to predict with. This is an experience that tosses you into a fire, wanting you to find your way out with their rules. I wasn’t confused by the story as I was by the characters and the chemistry they shared. While I won’t say it’s a bad film, it’s difficult to say it’s a great one either. If you’re up for something interest, check this out. FINAL SCORE: 76%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: