Thoroughbreds

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Thoroughbreds Movie Poster Image
Well-acted amorality tale explores youth, privilege, murder.
  • R
  • 2018
  • 92 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Not many positive messages in this movie, but there are some brutal truths -- for instance, that privileged, rich, white young women are unlikely to suffer the same consequences as the poor, ex-cons, or anyone who's otherwise disadvantaged. Also that the lack of empathy and compassion can lead to dangerous, disastrous behavior.

Positive Role Models & Representations

No real role models; only the drug dealer and the mean stepfather are willing to say that the girls are selfish. Amanda, despite not processing emotions, is observant and able to see truths others can't.

Violence

In the opening shot, a young woman holds a knife and is presumably about to hurt the horse she's staring at; two women discuss committing or planning a murder and the bloody euthanizing of a horse. Teens talk about photos of the dead horse, and one character looks at them, but they aren't shown on camera. The lead characters draw a gun on a man and then break a lamp on his head (bloody head is visible; he complains of the injury). A murder by stabbing is committed offscreen; the murderer's bloody gloves and clothes are visible afterward, but not the dead body.

Sex

Innuendo; nothing overt. The protagonists discuss whether movie co-stars were secretly having sex. Shots of Lily and Amanda in bathing suits or just in a towel. Someone reveals that Tim was convicted for statutory rape.

Language

Strong language includes many uses of "f--k" (both as an exclamation and as a word for sex), plus a couple uses of "motherf----r," "s--t," "c--k," "d--k," and "damn," and a few religious exclamations.

Consumerism

Mostly cars and electronics: BMW, Volvo, Apple, Range Rover, Honda.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The young women drink Lily's stepfather's expensive wine. At a high school party, teens drink, and a 20-something drug dealer jokes that he's there to provide a service (experimenting with drugs). An adult offers a teen a joint, but she doesn't take it. Lily smokes cigarettes in one scene, as does Tim. The lead characters offer an injured man Vicodin. Lily and Amanda drink cocktails. A character admits that she's drugged another character.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Thoroughbreds is an indie drama about two teenage girls who plan a murder in affluent, suburban Connecticut. The movie has been compared to American Psycho, Heathers, and Heavenly Creatures because of the way it explores an intense (female) friendship and how it shows that a lack of emotion and empathy can lead to disaster. It has a couple of bloody, disturbing scenes, but only one sequence involves violence taking place on camera (the two leads threaten and injure a man who's left with a bloody head wound). Other scenes make it obvious that violence took place off camera, and in one scene, a character's gloves and clothes are splattered with blood. There's lots of strong language (mostly "f--k," "s--t," etc.) and some innuendo, but no romance. Parents and teens who watch Thoroughbreds together will have plenty to discuss afterward: the depiction of status/privilege, the amorality of what the main characters plan, and the sense of entitlement that teens tend to project.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byStevie111 March 15, 2018

Dark and funny film is decent but feels incomplete

I liked Thoroughbreds a lot, but felt it was much too vague on certain topics and characters. It is just over 90 minutes and I didn't feel like it was enou... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byMatureFungus October 7, 2018

Dark and depressing....but so different

Swearing is the only concern for this movie with around 30 f-bombs and less s-words. The whole movie is about murder and it is often funny in a very dark way.... Continue reading

What's the story?

THOROUGHBREDS begins with a menacing shot of Amanda (Olivia Cooke) staring into the eyes of a beautiful horse while holding a large knife. In the next scene, Amanda arrives at an impeccable Connecticut mansion, where she waits for Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) to tutor her. It turns out the two 17-year-old high schoolers used to be good friends but haven't spoken in a while. They quickly get reacquainted. Amanda soon confesses to Lily that she doesn't process emotions like a typical empathetic person. After Lily admits how much she can't stand her new stepfather, Mark (Paul Sparks), Amanda suggests that Lily consider killing him. At first Lily is offended and breaks off contact with Amanda, but after discovering Mark's plans to send her off to a boarding school for troubled girls, Lily enlists Amanda to cook up a murder plan. At first the duo tries to blackmail Tim (the late Anton Yelchin), a petty drug dealer, into a contract killing, but things don't go as planned.

Is it any good?

This compelling indie drama's two lead performances -- with a memorable turn by the late Yelchin -- are outstanding enough to help viewers forgive the film's flaws. If Thoroughbreds is any indication. playwright-turned-feature director Cory Finley, like Martin McDonagh, seems fascinated with violence and morality and the various ways people can hurt one another. The setting of manicured lawns and expansive brick mansions (one which boasts not only marble walls and columns but also a tanning bed) is ideal for a drama about two young women with a whole lot of issues. Finley doesn't judge the girls (he humanizes each of them), but he also doesn't let them off the hook. As Amanda observes to Lily, there's nothing really overtly evil about her stepfather; he's just an "a--hole" she wishes were out of her life. He's a bro-ish jerk who wants to send Lily to the boarding school equivalent of rehab. Sparks, it should be noted, is scarily good as the sort of man who spends more time working on his body than really speaking to his wife or stepdaughter.

Despite the movie's dark proceedings, there's a heavy dose of humor here, mostly courtesy of Yelchin, in what is his final posthumous screen role. As a 25-year-old petty drug dealer who has dreams of one day owning the kinds of homes his young customers live in, Yelchin's Tim has some of the film's more memorable lines. The scene in which Tim discovers that Amanda and Lily are blackmailing him to kill a man just because he's got a conviction on the books and peddles marijuana and club drugs to eager rich teens is notable for how devastated and defeated Yelchin looks. He, like any adult viewer, knows they're right -- pretty, white, rich girls get second chances that he'll never be afforded. The movie's final act isn't quite as riveting as the brilliant setup, but this is a thought-provoking and engrossing crime drama.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in Thoroughbreds. Does it have consequences? What's the difference between premeditated/planned and spur-of-the-moment violent acts?

  • How does the movie explore socioeconomic status and class? Do you agree with the girls that rich, white young people are nearly unpunishable compared to those who are poor and struggling?

  • Are there any role models in the movie? Why do you think empathy, which both lead characters seem to lack, is an important character strength?

Movie details

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