A Look at Finley’s Film Thoroughbred

Emma Swanson, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Dark. Comedy. Both are words that can easily categorize the neo-noir thriller film, Thoroughbred, written and directed by Cory Finley ‘07. The film concerns two childhood best friends who grow apart and lead different lives.

Lily, played by Anya Taylor-Joy, lives with her obnoxious stepdad, Mark. Mark refuses to let Lily go to the college of her choice, and instead demands that she attend a school for girls with behavior issues.

Amanda, played by Olivia Cooke, is introduced as a borderline sociopath. This becomes evident when Amanda’s mom pays Lily to hang out with her social pariah of a daughter. When Lily and Amanda meet to study for exams, Amanda already knows that her mom paid Lily. Through the opening shots, it is revealed that Amanda heartlessly euthanizes a horse which is the cause of her isolation.

Initially, the exchanges between the two girls are tense, and the conversation is filled with passive aggressive comments. The dialogue between the characters is effective in setting the uncomfortable and hostile tone between Lily and Amanda. However once they move past this, they slowly start to reconnect. As they get closer, they begin to plot the murder of Mark.

While they plan the murder, they get more comfortable, and their relationship becomes stronger. They use this connection to persuade Tim, a drug-dealer played by Anton Yelchin in one of his final roles before his death, to join their murder scheme.

The dialogue between the two main characters is effective throughout the movie and embodies the aforementioned darkly comedic elements. Thoroughbred was initially written as a play, so dialogue was a main component. Once it was made into a movie, the other directorial components, such as the lighting, made the film even more successful and chilling. Finley intensifies the interactions and dialogue between characters with cinematic choices, especially the close-ups of the characters during their conversations. “Visual storytelling works more cleanly on screen. So the adaptation process was a lot about finding ways to convert dialogue into images,” Finley describes. Amy Phillips ‘20 appreciated the “auditory components that created feelings of dread and suspense.”

Thoroughbred is a great suspense thriller, especially with the intense dialogue, camera movements, and background audio. Thoroughbred premiered in the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Focus Features will release it in March 2018.