Sundance Review: Devious Anya Taylor-Joy and Olivia Cooke bewitch in ‘Thoroughbred’

Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy appear in Thoroughbredby Cory Finley, an official selection of the NEXT program at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Claire Folger.

(KUTV) Since seeing Anya Taylor-Joy in “The Witch,” the 20-year-old actress has quickly become one of my favorites. Yes, I had issues with “Morgan” and “Split,” but neither film’s weaknesses can be pinned on Taylor-Joy. Likewise, I quite liked “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” but it needed more from Olivia Cooke. The opportunity to see both in “Thoroughbred” wasn’t something I was going to miss.

Taylor-Joy stars as Lily, a teenage discontent with the manners of a Southern belle and the heart of a Salem witch, who reluctantly agrees to play friend to Amanda (Cooke), a cold and distant classmate who recently became notorious due to a particularly vicious act. Though the two girls were once close, the pair have become estranged as their paths diverged.

Together again the girls form a fragile bond tied together by secrets, lies and a plan that will free Lily from her emotionally abusive stepfather.

To be honest, “Thoroughbred” wasn’t the film I was expecting. Not that I was the least bit disappointed by the film itself, I just never made it past the two promotional images and the principal cast. I didn’t bother to read the synopsis. I didn’t need to know what the film was about to know that I had to see it.

Writer/director Cory Finley, a first-time director, has crafted a devilish upper-shelf thriller about two broken girls who when put together become capable of the unfathomable. I’d like to say the relationship is mutually beneficial, but this is a friendship that quickly turns parasitic. But who is manipulating whom?

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