Another suggestion made by a friend of mine, Thoroughbreds is actually a film I’ve had my eye on for some time. The stellar ratings, adoration for the two young female leads, and the harrowing premise gives this a “cool” factor that’s somewhat rare, even in the indie scene. This is also the debut directorial work of one Cory Finley; this being the beginning, I’m interested to see the continuation.
I have no idea what I really expect from films. A strange way to start out a review, for sure, but it’s an admission that has become depressingly relevant to me with all the films I consume in a given year. What used to be sure-things are now passable, yet somewhat dull ventures. If not for some form of nostalgia or bias—through actors involved or a pleasurable genre—my preferences tend to lean towards strange and sinister indie think-pieces with random, non-sanitized leads. In comes Thoroughbreds, showing me that that exploitable desire is still firmly attached to my soul.
A simple approach in a complex situation. Two former-friends-turned-current-friends are brought back together through various circumstances, and the two are polar opposites in almost every fashion. What separates this from Pixar, for example, is that the writing doesn’t give into the facets of mainstream structure. Instead of joining together to grow into a happy resolution, these two end up corrupting each other in unseen ways. Tight and fantastically performed, the two end up being the best part of the film, as well as elevating the script to devilish delights.
It works so well, it might even be a flaw. Cooke and Taylor-Joy are so good at playing off each other that all else almost pales in comparison. When they’re together, magic happens. Not to say other scenes aren’t emotionally provocative, but it’s these two and their bizarre, gradual descent into a clashing moral gray that makes this film so fascinating. Playing with the idea of actions and intent, empathy and apathy. Almost an isolated experiment of psychological mind games set in a cozy suburban neighborhood. Sprinkle in some subtle discussion about privilege and class and you have some pretty liberal shit.
Like many other great films, I think Thoroughbreds is better going in blind, which is why I’ve been kind of vague about the plot elements. Anything more I could say would be simple praise, such as “This film is the perfect length,” “There wasn’t a single bad actor,” and “Anya Taylor-Joy should marry me.” Not necessarily things that help without context, though things that could be used as extra motivation to watch. Well, maybe not the third thing.
I enjoyed this quite a bit, more than I thought I would. This is something I may revisit in the future to better evaluate all that is has to offer. With the first watch, there was only so much to take in without knowing what’s to occur. Hell, this may get an even better score if I look at it with the benefit of foresight. But that’s for the future—for now, this is an excellent dark film that knows how to perturb the heart along with the mind. Definitely recommended.
Final Score: 8/10
The rating for all other films can be found at Letterboxd.
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