What Anton Yelchin does in THOROUGHBREDS is amazing. In what is probably going to be his last theatrical release (he died in Summer 2016), he managed to take a very cookie cutter one dimensional character that was written a little half hazard on the script, and turn him into a full fledged supporting 3rd co-lead with multiple layers on the screen in the handful of scenes that he’s in. RIP Anton, your acting in this just proves that we truly lost a great talent not even in your prime. Anyway, for the rest of you reading this, there are 5 new movies coming out this weekend, including the high profile A Wrinkle In Time, which I’ll review Sunday, and this film is the ONLY film out of those getting good reviews, and it’s probably the film you are least likely to see because it is in limited theaters. That’s a shame. Because along with Date Night, Black Panther, and Annihilation, it’s one of the best of the year so far and is probably going to become a cult classic. Try as you might, unless you see this in theaters, you can’t say you were with it from the beginning if you don’t see it.
I loved this movie. It is basically, “what if Wes Anderson went really really fucking dark in one of his comedies, like darker than he’s ever been…although obviously not really directed by Wes Anderson.” It’s weird, it has those symmetrical shots (but not annoying so as Anderson always does it), it has witty dialogue, quirky characters, and insanely good acting. I can’t believe this was shot in 2016 right before Anton Yelchin died. Why did they hold it back so long? I understand maybe holding it because of Yelchin’s real life death however holding it for almost two years seems a bit overkill. It is really good and the studio should have more faith in it. If you have no idea what it is about, without spoiling anything, it involves two teen girls, one who doesn’t feel much of anything and has to fake her ways with emotions, played by Olivia Cooke, and one who feels everything and is trying to be friends with the other one, played by Ana Taylor Joy, plotting to kill Ana Taylor Joy’s stepdad. Anton Yelchin plays an older drug dealer that may or may not be part of the girls plans.
That’s all I’ll tell you. The genius of the film and of the script is how little it tell you till almost the very end of the film. Instead, it gives you context clues about the girls’ past to make you piece together what had happened before the events in the film take place. It was quite brilliant. My only complaint is that they shouldn’t have gave it to the audience near the end who couldn’t piece it together themselves, it really isn’t that difficult. The film is very witty, in that you have no idea and cannot predict how everything is going to turn out. You think it is going to go one way, it goes another, and then it does even another detour. I love the climax in this. LOVE it, I love the shots of it, the brilliance of the timing, the acting, the shock value, etc. I won’t obviously reveal what ultimately takes place, but everything about it is beautiful and perfect.
What more can I say about the dialogue in that although it feels true and sophisticated, it’s still witty and fun and it doesn’t try and play Juno on you. The acting in this already bumps it up a notch. Anton Yelchin isn’t in this as much as the two girls are, but whenever he is on screen, he is electrifying. He completely turns his drug dealer into a 3 dimensional character with his dialogue delivery and his facial ticks and body expressions. It was amazing. While I was listening to him give his dialogue, I was thinking, “damn, anyone else playing the role probably would’ve played it too straight for us to even get into the character.” He’s just that brilliant. But Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy are fantastic in this as well, especially Cooke. I always liked Cooke from Me, Earl, and The Dying Girl and can’t wait to see what she does as Parcival’s love interest in Ready Player One. The first time I aw Anya Taylor-Joy in anything was The Witch, which I didn’t particularly like. But after Split and this, she is really, really growing on me as an actress to look out for come awards time one day. Both of them.
You need to find the closest theater to you and see Thoroughbreds if you can. It’s a quirky cult classic in the making, reminding you of excellent ones such as Ghost World or Heathers while having a mind of its own and not being a copy cat. I really enjoyed my time with this one and I think with a little patience you will too. At least see it for Anton.