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Anya Taylor-Joy, Anton Yelchin and Olivia Cooke appear in Thoroughbred by Cory Finley, an official selection of the NEXT program at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

The indie drama Thoroughbred, written and directed by Cory Finley in his directorial debut, has been acquired by Focus Features for a reported $5 million. The film had its World Premiere over the weekend at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.

Thoroughbred features a topnotch cast that includes Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy, Paul Sparks, Francie Swift, Kaili Vernoff, and Anton Yelchin (“Star Trek”), who died last year in a tragic accident, in his final performance.

Emotionally challenged Amanda and contemptuous Lily reboot their childhood friendship after years of instability and judgment, thrown back together by standardized-test tutoring. When Lily’s icy stepdad, Mark, conspires to ship her off to reform school instead of her dream college, Amanda’s nonchalant quips about killing him suddenly seem enticing. Even as Amanda’s sinister tendencies surface and the girls hatch a plan, the mutual manipulation that has always defined their relationship threatens to derail their ambitions.

First-time director Cory Finley’s impressively stylish and assured filmmaking evokes a high-class world that is simultaneously familiar and strange, dripping with acidic dark wit and a disquietingly eerie score. Finley nurtures and coaxes astounding chemistry out of his talented cast, from the capricious friendship that binds Olivia Cooke (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, 2015) and Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch, 2015), to the unruly vulnerability of Anton Yelchin as their unlikely co-conspirator. Firmly staking his claim as a filmmaker to watch, Finley comfortably basks in the quiet chaos of his characters and leaves behind a beautiful and orderly trail of destruction.

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