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Anton Yelchin, who passed away in 2016, plays Tim in Thoroughbreds.
Post-Oscar season has arrived and with that, more and more new movies are being released that are worth the time and price. This weekend saw the release of both Thoroughbreds and A Wrinkle In Time. The former features one of the last performances from Anton Yelchin, who tragically passed away two years ago, which is why I opted to see this film first.
After all, A Wrinkle in Time will still be playing at a theater next week and who knows how long a small film like Thoroughbreds will be available.
Thoroughbreds follows two friends from suburban Connecticut, Lily (played by Anya Taylor-Joy) and Amanda (Olivia Cooke), as they plan to murder Lily’s stepfather Mark (Paul Sparks). Yelchin plays Tim, the hired gunman the girls use to try to get the job done.
The film’s director and writer, Cory Finley, elegantly constructs two protagonists who not only feed off each other’s personalities but also are unique and unsettling enough on their own that watching them generates an uncomfortable feeling that is hard to describe.
Thoroughbreds is Finley’s first time behind the camera — his experience in cinema went as far as writing the script for a couple of short films that debuted last year.
Although originally intended to be a play, the direction of the film is key in portraying and executing the themes that the dialogue and script (also written by Finley) attempt to convey. That being said, none of this works without the performances of the two young actresses that spearhead the film.
Both Taylor-Joy and Cooke show that they are a force to be reckoned with; Cooke’s lack of affect is an essential part of her character and is a contrast to Taylor-Joy’s more emotive character.
Amanda’s character is the pusher: She wants Lily to stop being someone fake, who is only focused on appearances. Amanda wants Lily to express herself and quit being ambivalent. She reminded me of that one friend that we all have, the one that convinces us to do wild shit all the time.
Yelchin is also fantastic in his role that often provides comic relief, easing up the tension across the film, and his character also provides the audience with a contrast to the lavish lifestyle that both Cooke and Taylor-Joy’s characters live in.
The “antagonist” (he has very limited screen time and is more of a trigger than a real antagonist) Tim, who is more or less a stereotypical rich step dad — an asshole who cares very little for the child he inherited.
That’s all we really know about Tim, but in the 90-minute runtime his character makes sense. After all, this movie is about how the privilege these two girls have is both a benefit and a detriment.
The film’s pacing is deliberately slow, divided into four chapters. At times, not much really goes on other than some interesting — if not creepy — dialogue which builds up the tension.
Intentional as the pacing may be, it certainly has the potential to be a little frustrating. Every time it seems like we will be reaching a potential climax, the script takes us to an unexpected place. It’s in these corners where the novelty and Finley’s unique background as a playwright shine the most.
By avoiding the genre tropes that come with thrillers, Finley is able to let his composer, Erik Friedlander, create a unique score, which was at times jarring and overall difficult to describe. It’s the perfect complement to the two leads of the story and, although jarring, it helps maintain the tone of the film.
All in all, Thoroughbreds is an exceptional debut for director and writer Cory Finley. His playwriting background is evident on the screen with dialogue that is sharp and concise, while his directing ability is up to par considering he had never been to a film set before.
Strengthened by two exceptional leading actresses who are both up-and-comers in Hollywood, Thoroughbreds is an exploration into the pitfalls of being wealthy, as well as just being a fun movie about sociopathic teenage girls.