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Thoroughbreds

Two privileged teens get bloody bored in this twisted tale

© Big Indie Pictures Two upper-class teenage girls (Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy) rekindle their unlikely friendship after years of growing apart. Together, they hatch a plan to solve both of their problems — no matter what the cost.
     Amanda (Olivia Cooke: Vanity Fair) and Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy: Split) are used to the finer things. The children of wealthy parents, both girls run in the best circles, go to pricey schools and leave their messes for the maids in their mansions. 
       As the best friends grow up and apart, they become more specialized in their peculiarities. Amanda lacks feelings. She’s learned to fake them to fit in and make people comfortable, but she’s emotionally blank. When her show horse is injured, she chooses to put the horse down herself, using a knife. Now labeled a psycho, Amanda’s pretty sure she’s still a decent person, if a little off-putting.
       Lily has more successfully hidden her oddities from her social circles. On the outside, she is the perfect image of upper-class prep: Smart, impeccably styled, thin and well-mannered. She’s also wound so tightly that an unexpected touch will send her into a panic-induced flinch. She hates her stepfather, who finds her shallow and spoiled, and is convinced he’s ruining her life.
      Lily hesitates at resuming her friendship with Amanda, as she doesn’t want to be associated with the town nut job. But soon the two find a twisted kinship. Lily can tell Amanda anything, because Amanda won’t react emotionally. In turn, Lily finds ­Amanda oddly endearing.
      When Lily complains about her awful stepdad, Amanda suggests she kill him. At first dismissing the crazy notion from Amanda’s troubled brain, Lily begins to see its appeal. The two teens are soon plotting their perfect murder.
      Can they get away with it? Or should they stick to annoying the maids and borrowing their moms’ fancy cars?
      Much like the girls at the center of its story, Thoroughbreds is heavy on style but a bit light on substance. Think of it as Heathers for the Instagram generation.
      First-time writer-director Cory Finley has crafted a thriller with Hitchcockian tension. Each frame is crafted to ratchet up suspense. Score and sound design to make viewers feel tense and off balance. 
     On the other hand, the message is muddled. Finley wants to comment about how privileged environments make monsters of their inhabitants, but he never sinks his teeth into the satire.
     Cooke and Taylor-Joy are pitch perfect in contributing to this glossy confection. Cooke is up to the challenge of finding charm in Amanda’s emotionless void. She gives us a girl frank to a fault and hilariously unflappable.
     Taylor-Joy has the slightly showier role of the fragile Lily, who is so concerned with appearances that she can barely breathe without hyperventilating.
     Thoroughbreds is slick, darkly funny and immensely entertaining. 
Good Thriller • R • 92 mins.
 
~~~ New this Week ~~~
 
Love, Simon
      Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) has a typical teen’s problems topped by coming out to friends and family. His respite from turmoil is his connection to Blue, an anonymous boy from his high school who is also gay and afraid to come out. 
      As the pair grow close over email, Simon falls for his epistolary partner. Can he discover Blue’s identity? Will the reveal be disappointing? 
      Robinson, a likeable lead with ­plenty of charisma, helps make Love, Simon a heartfelt coming-of-age story plenty of teens can relate to.
Prospects: Bright • PG-13 • 109 mins. 
 
Tomb Raider
        After the mysterious disappearance of her adventurer-father, Lara Croft (Alicia Vikander) drifts. Rich but without direction, she takes menial jobs while barely attending college. 
     When she’s offered a clue to her father’s fate, she sets on a trans-global mission to find the truth. Along the way, she battles ancient boobytraps, evil treasure hunters and a global conspiracy. 
    The second adaptation of the wildly popular Tomb Raider video game series, this film sticks more closely to the game’s origin story. This means plenty of angst, lots of made-up ancient cultural trivia and plenty of shots of Vikander in tight clothes. A good actress, Vikander should be able to carry the film. But don’t expect much from the story. 
Prospects: Flickering • PG-13 • 122 mins.