Review: 3.5 palm trees out of 4
by Manuel Reynoso
Thoroughbreds is a 2017 dark-comedy, thriller film written and directed by Cory Finley. It stars Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy, Anton Yelchin, Paul Sparks, and Francie Swift.
Troubled by her poor relationship with her step-dad, Lily plots to kill him with the aid of her emotionless friend Amanda.
From Amanda’s deadpan delivery, revealing her emotional ineptness; to the hauntingly sterile upbringing of Lily’s upper class lifestyle, Thoroughbreds makes its theme clear: I don’t feel anything. Now that isn’t to say you won’t, Thoroughbreds was filled with moments of dark comedy and suspense; it takes risks and is rewarded for them, well most of them. While the cinematography and directing style created a strong film-noir aesthetic, a propensity for style over substance leads to some scenes requiring you to slog through.
Thoroughbreds has a remarkably strong theme, and rode it out to the very end. The idea of not feeling emotions is a scary thought. One that this film plays with in more ways than I was expecting. The film carries the theme not just narratively, but with strong cinematography and direction. Scenes are slow and methodical, lit in the likeness of the dreary and cold setting we associate with hospitals. While I laud the commitment to the theme, there was a lot of what felt like fluff throughout the film. Many of the shots were well executed, but dragged on far too long. I appreciate the composition of the shot, just not when it stays on it for way too long. I don’t want to say this was a big deal, but I can very much see this film being considered way to slow by some.
The direction of Corey Finley to create a film that purposely felt soulless and sterile was a double edged sword. I do believe in context of the film, it proved to be an effective way to support the theme. However, in practice it feels empty compared to what one might be used to in other films. Sound design consisted more of soundscapes with various sounds and noises as opposed to the usual musical scores we may be used to. Again, I found these risks to be effective, but your mileage may vary.
I found Thoroughbreds enjoyable, despite feeling uncomfortable half the time(in the best way possible). While the film hinged entirely on not feeling anything, the same can’t be said for the viewer. I felt tense and scared one moment, and uncomfortable for laughing at this films dark humor right after. It’s worth taking the chance on something small but risky, you might just come away with more than you expected. Rated R 1h32m