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Thoroughbreds

Mar 13, 2018

It's neo-noir in Connecticut with two bad girls doing what bad girls do--murder.

Thoroughbreds

Grade: B

Director: Corey Finley

Screenplay: Finley

Cast: Olivia Cooke (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl), Anya Taylor – Joy (The Witch), Kaili Vernoff (Café Society), Paul Sparks (Midnight Special)

Rating: R

Runtime: 1 hr 32 min

by John DeSando

“Good breeding consists in concealing how much we think of ourselves and how little we think of the other person.” Mark Twain

Two slick chicks from upper-class Connecticut, renewing a friendship, plan to murder an obnoxious step dad. Not that he doesn't deserve to be out of the picture because of his abusive attitude, mental more than anything else. It's just that he doesn't deserve to die; rather he needs mom to divorce him or some such.

However, these girls are strange, Amanda (Olivia Cooke) talking like a robot with no affect because of a considerable drama with her horse and Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy), wide-eyed receptive to Amanda's amorality and suggestion for dad Mark’s (Paul Sparks) permanent removal. Both speak with a distant emotion to be almost other worldly. Neither is stable.

First-time director Corey Finley  firmly keeps the tone and motifs in the lite-horror mode as the young off-center ladies plot the complicated process of murder.  Meanwhile we are amused by a horse motif as Amanda describes the death of her beloved Honeymooner at her own hands.  Shades of Equus not National Velvet.

The tone is hard-boiled neo-noir, Twilight Zone and Strangers on a Train with a side of Double Indemnity, a form of strange naughtiness.  To help us stay real, the writer/director introduces small time hood, Tim , played by the late Anton  Yelchin with the  right cluelessness of a  minor drug  dealer who's done time. Like the girls, he lives in an altered world, born of prison, and they of wealth that allows them to offer him $100K to murder step dad.

Thoroughbreds is a juicy dark comedy that not only keeps the audience guessing about the girls' whopper idea but also keeps it amused by their removal from reality. In reality, this is a case of “good breeding gone bad,” for horse and girls alike. Yes, murder is real enough.

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com