THOROUGHBREDS

"Selfish Nihilism Leads to Murder"

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Language
Violence
Sex
Nudity

Summary:

THOROUGHBREDS is a dark comedy about two middle class girls of high school age who establish a quirky friendship and consider murdering the richer girl’s mean stepfather. THOROUGHBREDS is clearly well written, directed, edited, and acted and offers a provocative portrayal of modern teenage hedonistic nihilism, but it offers little to counteract its nihilism, so it’s not going to attract a wide audience.

Review:

The German poet and playwright Goethe offered four questions to describe and evaluate a work of art. First, what is the work trying to do? Second, how is the work trying to do that? Third, how well does the work do what it’s trying to do? Fourth, was it worth doing?

THOROUGHBREDS is a dark comedy about two middle class girls of high school age who establish a quirky friendship and consider murdering the richer girl’s mean stepfather. THOROUGHBREDS is clearly well written, directed, edited, and acted and offers a provocative portrayal of modern teenage hedonistic nihilism, but it offers little to counteract its nihilism, so it wasn’t worth doing and isn’t worth seeing.

The movie opens with a girl named Amanda staring at and petting a horse in a stable. Later, the movie reveals through dialogue that the horse had a broken leg, and Amanda went to extreme measures to put the horse out of its misery.

Cut to Amanda going to visit a fancy large house. Another teenage girl, Lily, appears and starts tutoring Amanda. They used to go to school together when they were younger, but went their separate ways when Lily’s father died and her mother married a rich man. Amanda surmises correctly that Lily hates her stepfather. Amanda also reveals that she has trouble feeling any emotion and usually just fakes emotion when she’s around other people.

Soon, Amanda is encouraging Lily to plot her stepfather’s death. Lily decides to do exactly that when she learns her stepfather already has paid a boarding school in another state to accept Lily. It’s clear Lily’s mother doesn’t like the idea of sending her daughter so far away either but is afraid of confronting her husband.

Will Amanda and Lily go through with carrying out a plan to murder Lily’s stepfather?

THOROUGHBREDS offers a chilling portrait of two amoral, hedonistic teenagers. As such, however, it fails to give viewers any real counterpoint to the cold psychotic amorality of the two leads. In the end, Lily, the rich girl, turns out to be the more cold-hearted of the two girls. A scene toward the end shows her interacting with a young drug dealer the two girls had tried to blackmail into killing the stepfather for them. The reaction on the man’s face as he learns how cold-hearted Lily has become is priceless. Even he’s afraid of this psychotic girl in the beautiful fancy dress.

Thus, while THOROUGHBREDS doesn’t endorse the murder or try to convince viewers that Lily is a nice, harmless person, the movie’s final message is that selfish nihilism can be victorious if a person is ruthless enough and clever enough. THOROUGHBREDS could have been a brilliant morality tale. Sadly, though, it fails.

Content:

(Ro, HH, LLL, VVV, S, NN, AA, DD, MM):

Dominant Worldview and Other Worldview Content/Elements:
Subtle Romantic worldview that selfish nihilism is created by wealth and privilege that removes empathy from young people;

Foul Language:
37 obscenities (about 30 “f” words), one JC profanity and one light profanity;

Violence:
Very strong bloody scene as teenage girl, after having just committed a bloody murder, wipes her bloody hands on another teenage girl whom she’s given a drug-laced drink, to frame her friend for murder, characters fight for handgun, strong violent scene when one girl hits young man over the head and the next scene he has a bloody bandage on his head while he sits with his clothes on in a bathtub, and girl scrubs bloodstains out of carpet;

Sex:
Brief sexual references;

Nudity:
Upper female nudity in one scene;

Alcohol Use:
Brief alcohol use includes teenagers drink alcohol at a party;

Smoking and/or Drug Use and Abuse:
Smoking, character uses cocaine, girl willingly drinks orange and vodka drink even after she’s informed the drink has a sleeping agent in it, and teenagers talk to drug dealer who brags about his plans to become the top drug dealer in the area some day; and,

Miscellaneous Immorality:
Blackmail, extortion, teenagers plan murder, teenage girl admits she hates her stepfather, character framed for murder, teenage girl admits she has no feelings and sometimes fakes having feelings, and stepfather intimidates teenage girl’s mother, who’s scared of him.

In Brief:

THOROUGHBREDS is a dark comedy about two upper middle class high school girls, who establish a quirky friendship leading to murder. Lily, a wealthy teenage girl, starts tutoring a strange girl named Amanda. They attended school together but went their separate ways when Lily’s father died and her mother married a rich man. Amanda surmises correctly that Lily hates her stepfather. Meanwhile, Amanda admits she has trouble feeling any emotion and usually just fakes it. She encourages Lily to plot her stepfather’s murder. Lily agrees when he announces he plans to send Lily to a fancy boarding school far away from her mother. Will Amanda and Lily go through with their plan to murder him?

THOROUGHBREDS offers a chilling portrait of two amoral, hedonistic teenagers. As such, however, it fails to give viewers any counterpoint to the cold psychotic amorality of the two leads. Thus, while THOROUGHBREDS doesn’t endorse the murder, its final message is that selfish nihilism can be victorious if a person is ruthless enough and clever enough. THOROUGHBREDS could have been a brilliant morality tale. Sadly, though, it fails.