Thoroughbreds: Goodbye, Anton Yelchin

Anya Taylor-Joy stars as Lily and Olivia Cooke as Amanda and in THOROUGHBREDS, a Focus Features release. Credit: Claire Folger / Focus Features

While late actor Anton Yelchin serves as the third lead of Thoroughbreds, his performance is a reminder of how much was lost when his life came to a tragic ending.

Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Amanda (Olivia Cooke) used to be close friends when they were growing up but their friendship faded away in recent years.  Lily’s parents had sent away to boarding school and she was able to land an internship.  Meanwhile, Amanda, who has zero feelings whatsoever, had become that awkward teenager that nobody wants to hang out with.  She has her own way about living, going so far as wanting to “skip college and Steve Jobs” her way through life.

Their friendship appears to be at a bad place when we initially meet them but over time, the two of them grow back into the friends they used to be, watching classic movies on television.  It’s not until Lily’s stepfather, Mark (Paul Sparks), shows his true emotions that the two of them decide to bring in Tim (Anton Yelchin), a local drug dealer working at a psychiatric facility, in order to get Mark out of the picture.

There’s so much that can be said about Lily and Amanda being at the worst possible place in their lives to come of age.  These two teenagers make several bad decisions that have some drastic effects on their lives.  It’s the moment in which they hired Tim when viewers realize that it won’t end well for somebody.

With Cory Finley’s direction and cinematographer Lyle Vincent, the camera framing gives off the vibe of a psychological thriller.  One can see it in the eyes of Lily and Amanda.  Throw in the suspenseful score from Eric Friedlander and all the ingredients are in place.  The score adds so much to the film that it’s a wonder that the score isn’t listed in the cast itself.

Cooke, who starred in the 2015 Sundance favorite, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, shows that her breakout performance was no fluke.  There’s a lot of deadpan performance that she brings to the character, a far change from her breakout role of Rachel.  Playing opposite her, Taylor-Joy provides a calm feeling in her portrayal of Lily and reaches the emotions that the role requires of her. There’s no way to foresee what her character arc would look like but she gives it her all and never lets go.

Anya Taylor-Joy stars as Lily and Anton Yelchin as Tim in THOROUGHBREDS, a Focus Features release.
Credit: Claire Folger / Focus Features

It’s Yelchin’s acting abilities who makes us realize that we’re never going to see another performance from the late Star Trek actor.  Take it all in when he’s on screen because unless there’s never going to be another on-screen performance from him again.  He steals every scene that he’s in, which only goes to show how much was lost when he died in 2016.

It has to be noted that while the title, Thoroughbreds, may be misleading, there is an actual horse in the film.  The horse does serve it’s purpose for a few brief cringe-inducing scenes.

Even if you’re not into psychological thrillers, the film alone is worth it just for Yelchin’s scene-stealing performance.

DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER:  Cory Finley
CAST:  Anya Taylor-Joy, Olivia Cooke, Anton Yelchin, Paul Sparks, Francie Swift, Kailie Vernoff

Focus Features will open Thoroughbreds in theaters on March 9, 2018.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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