MIFF Review: Thoroughbreds

Though the film might contain top notch performances from up and coming stars Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy & the late, great Anton Yelchin in one of his final screen performances, the true breakout star of this is writer/director Cory Finley. Thoroughbreds is a wickedly acerbic black comedy, ice cold to the touch and expertly played. Whilst it doesn’t quite stick the landing, its ambition and quirks shine. As a debut feature, it marks Finley as a force to be reckoned with.

There’s something wholly engaging and, indeed, voyeuristic watching a pair of antagonistic teenagers plot to do amoral things. The term guilty pleasure needs to apply here as the indulgences of Amanda (Olivia Cooke) and Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) are certainly not of the wholesome kind.

Thoroughbreds is a film that sidles itself into the realms of such titles as Heathers, Mean Girls (if it were a noir), Jawbreaker, The River’s Edge, Heavenly Creatures and Very Bad Things. And for a film of this ilk to work, it hinges on the rapport and commitment of its central protagonists. In the case of Thoroughbreds, it delivers that in spades.

It’s the obscenely wealthy mega house vistas of Connecticut where we meet estranged friends Amanda and Lily. Amanda, a drop out with a rumour circulating of her love of horses, and Lily, the obscenely rich priss with a venomous bite, reforge their friendship through the vile barbs, love of old movies, oh and a murder plot they’ve concocted.

To reveal anymore would disservice both yours and the film’s enjoyment suffice to say Finley continually attempts to subvert the expectations of where Thoroughbreds is headed.

This is a wordplay film over a more physical comedy thriller and it’s a testament to the two on-point protagonists that deliver it with such prestige. It makes the screenplay shine through, and Finley’s directorial hand is just assured as his actors are game. Anton Yelchin also relishes his turn as a low life hustler and it still pangs that the young actor with so much promise is no longer with us.

Is Thoroughbreds headed for cult status? Maybe. There’s one thing definitely assured with it, and that is it’s enormous calling card for Cory Finley. Keep ’em coming, Finley, we’ll be watching!

★★★★

THOROUGHBREDS screens at the MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2018 through UNIVERSAL PICTURES