Amanda is completely devoid of emotions.
That may sound difficult to believe. But if you spend a few minutes in a room alone with this blank-faced young woman, you’ll know it’s true. She claims that any emotions she’s ever displayed were well-practiced ones. She’s got doctor bills and scores of prescriptions to prove it.
If you were to talk with Amanda a little, you’d also realize that her lack of personal emotion, paired with her subsequent close study of others, makes her very skilled at reading your face—each twitch, every curve of your mouth. She can read your true feelings like a book.
That’s exactly what Lily found out when she started helping Amanda prepare for her college entrance exams. The two girls were good friends way back in, like, 6th grade. But they’ve had little contact since. And a lot has changed.
Well, a lot would have to have changed, wouldn’t it? There’s the murder of Amanda’s horse, for one thing. The rumor mill says Amanda did it herself with a small, sharp meat knife. And someone said there were even gory, horrible pictures floating around somewhere.
Lily is only tutoring Amanda now because Amanda’s mother is paying her to do so. No one else will go near this damaged girl. But as they meet, Lily begins to appreciate Amanda’s ability to see everything so plainly, to make such cold and calculated assessments of it all.
Why, she noticed immediately how much Lily detests her stepfather. Lily wears a smiling face whenever he’s around, but she loathes the man. And Amanda saw it all as if it were printed on her forehead.
In fact, the more time the two spend together, the more they share, the more Lily is beginning to relax around Amanda. The more she likes her. And the more she’s starting to wonder if they’re, maybe … cut from the same cloth.
The two girls actually find a support system, of sorts, in each other’s friendship. “You’re like watching a YouTube video of a giant zit being popped,” Lily gushes approvingly. Amanda appreciates the sentiment.
On a bigger thematic level, this film could be interpreted as a disturbing commentary on how our culture dehumanizes us—especially young people—when empty materialistic trappings become the primary goal in life.
While talking about the concept of possibly taking a life, Amanda declares, “Human life is not a sacred thing!”
Lily wears some formfitting outfits and dons a top with a low-cut neckline at one point. We see Amanda wrapped in a towel after a shower.
A drug dealer named Tim gets slugged in the eye while pushing weed at a teen party. Later, Amanda and Lily recruit him to help with something grim they're plotting because he has a gun. Things don’t go as the girls imagine, though, so they knock Tim out by smashing a lamp over his head. We see him after that with a bloody bandage on his noggin.
Amanda says she killed her horse out of mercy, and she tells the Lily the tale in all its gory detail. Lily is sent pictures of the animal’s mutilated corpse, and she looks at it intently. (The images are kept from our view, however.)
A murder takes place off-camera. We hear the sounds of a struggle. Then the murderer emerges covered in blood. That blood ends up on someone else, too, and drips on the furniture.
Crude or Profane Language
Nearly 30 f-words and a couple of s-words join uses of “a--” and “b--ch.” God's named is paired with "d--n" once. And there's one misuse of Jesus' name.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Teens drink beer and hard liquor at a party. Amanda and Lily steal a bottle of wine. Amanda opens it and takes a swig. Tim sells marijuana at that party, too, and offers a joint to Lily. Later Amanda and Lily buy some unidentified drug from Tim.
Lily spikes Amanda’s drink with something that knocks her out cold. We see Amanda taking prescription meds that she says put her to sleep for 14 hours at a pop.
Other Negative Elements
The girls talk nihilistically about life. Amanda even recognizes that she’s being set up for something terrible, and still lets it happen seemingly without a care. We eventually learn that Lily has had problems of her own, including the fact that she's previously been kicked out of school for plagiarism.
Early on in Thoroughbreds, Amanda practices expressions in a mirror—her features lighting up with a very believable and natural emotion, then dropping back into their neutral positions a heartbeat later. She later demonstrates this “technique” to Lily, even showing her friend how to cry on demand.
Both displays add an eerie creepiness to this admittedly well-crafted thriller. In scenes like these, Thoroughbreds uses its detached female leads to unfold a slow-boiling commentary on our emotionally damaged society.
On the other hand, this is a murder movie. It may be a deadly chamber piece that keeps the messiest moments out of sight, but we’re still put through our content-laden paces.
At one point, for instance, we’re told the slice-by-slice details of an animal’s grisly execution. So, when we hear the thumps and bumps of an off-screen human slaughter later on, our imagination effectively fills in the gory bits. Add in a fair bit of foul language and a bucket or two of blood, and there’s plenty here to wave a red flag over.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Olivia Cooke as Amanda; Anya Taylor-Joy as Lily; Anton Yelchin as Tim; Paul Sparks as Mark
Cory Finley ( )
March 9, 2018
June 5, 2018