Thoroughbreds was Cory Finley’s directorial debut. Amanda, Olivia Cooke, does not feel emotions, though she can detect them in others. She killed her horse years earlier to put it out of misery and became an outcast. Her mother pays Lily, Anya Taylor-Joy, to hang out and tutor her. Once Lily and Amanda come to terms with the arrangement and become honest a plan is hatched to kill Amanda’s rich stepfather, Mark, Paul Sparks. It is a phycological thriller at times and an exploration of privileged white girls with no concept of repercussions at others.
I enjoyed Amanda’s character as a novel concept to me. She was not a sociopath, instead, she lacked all emotions but sought to understand others’ emotions. Cooke’s portrayal gave good depth to a challenging character to play. Lily is called out for being privileged by her stepfather and resents it. The film tries to portray him as evil, but Lily’s immaturity and our limited glimpses of the relationship between Mark and her mother never give us a complete picture of the full extent of the relationship.
The film drips with privilege in an incredibly wealthy part of Connecticut. Everyone indeed has problems, but Lily’s seem less consequential than the film tries to make them out to be. There is an attempt to portray Amanda as more mature, but it did not sit well with me. These are both young girls who still need a lot of emotional maturities, as most high schoolers do. Money does not bring maturity; it can just as often stunt it by preventing someone from having to develop responsibility.
Thoroughbreds has a wonderful cast that has done some great work. Cory Finley has yet to make a screenwriting follow up but, Landscape with Invisible Hand is in post-production. I am not holding my breath to see what he does the second time around, but this film was enjoyable enough. I missed seeing this in theaters when it came out and it had long been on my to-watch list. Perhaps I waited too long, or perhaps my appreciation for film has changed over the last five years.