Slick, dark and thoroughly watchable, Thoroughbreds is an accomplished first feature from Corey Finley about privilege and morality. Touted as American Psycho meets Heathers, it has an affinity with both in its exploration of the heartless self absorption that can come with wealth and entitlement.
Troubled but well-off teen Amanda (Olivia Cooke) is the subject of gleefully judgemental gossip after she kills her thoroughbred horse. Deposited for a tutoring session at the enormous house of former childhood friend Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy), the differences between the two young women quickly surface.
Lily has a wealthy stepdad who she hates but otherwise seems to have a perfect life. Amanda experiences no emotions and so is compulsively blunt in her observations and actions. For her, everything she does is pragmatic and completely logical but, to others, her lack of emotion shows she is devoid of a moral compass. But all, of course, is not quite what it seems and Amanda is a catalyst that sees Lily’s true nature emerge. The interplay between the two women makes us question where morality really lies.
The story is beautifully presented with a measured pace and a strong visual aesthetic that makes much of the precise and pristine world of the wealthy. Cooke and Taylor-Joy are convincing and immensely watchable and carry almost the entire film. Stepdad Mark (Paul Sparks) and small time drug dealer Tim (Anton Yelchin) provide a counterpoint that contributes to our slow realisation that none are quite what we have assumed they are.
Finley shows an admirable restraint and there are some memorable scenes, particularly towards the end. Nicely done.
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