April 1, 2023

Gabbing Geek

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Geek Review: Thoroughbreds

Two girls have a close, but ugly, friendship in this dark comedy.

I saw four movies over four days.  Gringo had squandered potential.  A Wrinkle in Time was rather meh.  The Hurricane Heist wasn’t the right kind of stupid.

But then there was the dark comedy Thoroughbreds.  That made up for a lot.

Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) is an overachiever at a prep school helping her friend Amanda (Olivia Cooke) study for the SAT.  Amanda recently did something horrible to a horse (the movie keeps most of the violence off-screen), and Amanda’s mother had to pay Lily a good deal of money to do the tutoring as a result.  Amanda learns this with a little bit of investigating and isn’t mad.  She isn’t anything.  Amanda claims to have no emotions and had to teach herself how to fake feelings up to and including crying.  Despite this, Lily seems to see a need to keeping Amanda around, and no matter what is said to her nothing seems to upset Amanda since she can’t feel upset.

Why would Lily want Amanda around?  Well, Lily has a rich stepfather named Mark (Paul Sparks, the guy who always plays handsome dicks these days), and she’d like him to go away.  Why?  Well, he rubs her the wrong way.  Lily is no saint, so much of what she does is done out of selfishness.  Amanda is a good planner, and she doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty.  Will they do something about Mark?  They may, and the pair might have use for a sleazy drug dealer (the late Anton Yelchin in his final role) who may, theoretically, do the job.

This movie has a dark, deadpan delivery style that leads to a rather satisfying comedy.  The atonal soundtrack, smart writing, and even a surprisingly sympathetic performance from Cooke as a girl with no feelings works very well, and the whole thing salvaged my moviegoing weekend.  9.5 out of ten giant chess sets.

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