I have a perfectly healthy brain. It just doesn’t contain feelings. That doesn’t necessarily make me a bad person.
I really flipped for both Anya Taylor-Joy and Olivia Cooke after seeing them in The Witch & Me & Earl & the Dying Girl, respectively, so a suspense thriller featuring the two of them as young women in a twisted relationship sounded right up my alley and I’m glad to say that it absolutely was. Cooke is a marvel as Amanda, the affectless sociopath of the two, a girl who just doesn’t quite get it when it comes to human life being a big deal. It’s a performance of such committed blandness and depression that it works, her voice toneless, her face expressionless except when she’s feigning emotion, which isn’t often really, and even then nothing reaches her eyes, which are consistently empty. Anya Taylor-Joy’s Lily is less sociopathic, but she’s troubled enough to be steered by Cooke’s character; she resists Amanda’s notion that killing someone is as valid a way of solving a problem as any other, but, you know, relatively briefly by societal norms. It’s kind of testament to just how good these young ladies are that I kind of want to see the alternate version of this film where they switch roles; I think they’d both be just as great in the opposite roles. Anton Yelchin gives what will, tragically, stand as his best performance as an uneasy drug dealer drawn into the net the girls weave; he’s consistently out of his depth and a pretty pathetic character in all seriousness. He lacks conviction and the meanness necessary to really play the part he’s chosen for himself. It’s a marvelous performance. Paul Sparks is also very good, all awkward creepiness as Lily’s father. It’s a really sharp movie, not afraid to be kind of mean-spirited at times, but also surprisingly emotionally evocative. There’s a moment near the end when there’s a fairly lengthy chunk of voice-over that kind of tries to tie everything together thematically and the film would have been a lot better without it, but it’s a small misstep. It’s a really, really wonderful feature debut for writer-director Cory Finlay and I can’t wait to see what he does next. 4 stars.
tl;dr – sharp, witty, mean little thriller is a great calling card for writer-director Finley and features a batch of truly brilliant performances. 4 stars.