a THOROUGHBREDS musing
Tragedy struck the day Anton Yelchin died in a freak accident, but his work lives on. In THOROUGHBREDS, Anton’s final role is that of a burnout loser who decides to help the two lead women. It’s a minor role that, in a movie full of “I know a guy like that”s, strikes close to home. Set in an upper-class neighborhood in suburban Connecticut, the movie is isolated from most happenings outside of this bubble. It was easy to relate this town to the city I grew up in, and that’s where the parallels grew and sprouted my love for this movie.
The movie begins with a long tracking shot following Amanda (Olivia Cooke) as she explores the expansive and elaborately decorated house of Lily, played by Anya Taylor-Joy. If you read a lot of my musings, you know I’m a sucker for one-take shots, but I wasn’t too hot on the multiple long takes since they’re relatively simple. Those shots rely on the actresses doing great work, but outside of a mostly dynamic camera, there’s nothing interesting about these shots. Usually, long takes are employed to give the viewer a feel for the physical space the actors are exploring, but there’s no payoff for that exploration of the home. But the rest of the cinematography was breathtaking, with cinematographer Lyle Vincent framing each shot with OCD-like precision, mirroring the extravagant mansion most of the movie takes place in. It’s mostly hits rather than misses here for this up-and-coming DP, but I can see him becoming a force in his field.
It’s a shame the audience I watched this with wasn’t as vocal/willing to laugh out loud as I was, since the humor was surprisingly satirical. First time writer-director Cory Finley has a good handle on the tone of the movie, and lets his actresses do subtle, funny work. I couldn’t stop laughing during one scene in a day spa, where, again, a meal is framed so perfectly, with everything in tip-top shape in its right place, as the two actresses in the scene picking at their food. One of them takes a bite of the food and instantly compliments the taste. Maybe I read way too far into it, but to me, a peon in relation to the characters on screen, it seems like such a facetious thing for a person of that class to have that quick of a reaction without really making their mind up on it. Another scene has our two leads have a conversation while one of them struggles to lift giant pieces on a lawn chessboard playing against herself. The whole movie is filled with subtle digs at this class, and I couldn’t help but laugh at a lot of these examples of relative outrageousness.
THOROUGHBREDS really takes its time, and Cooke and Taylor-Joy skillfully power their way through, making long stretches all the more interesting. It’s a great debut movie, one that has had a hard time of leaving my head for the past few days. I only wish Yelchin had a much larger role where he could shine even more; he still turns in a reliably great performance.
RATING: BEST OF THE BEST
(Refer to my rating system HERE!)