Tag Archives: Anya Taylor-Joy

Holding Out for a Hero

The Super Mario Bros. Movie

by Hope Madden

Allegedly, Anya Taylor-Joy, who’d never played a Mario game of any kind, played incessantly to prepare for her role as Princess Peach in The Super Mario Bros. Movie. I have also never played, but I am far less committed.

Directors Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic (both of Teen Titans fame) hit their tone in an absurd, adorable opening sequence that introduces the evil of Bowser (Jack Black, perfect). Then we skip to Brooklyn to meet a pair of lovable plumbing losers, Luigi (Charlie Day) and Mario (Chris Pratt).

Soon the indefatigable Mario and his hapless brother are sucked into another realm where the filmmakers show their fondness for these games. To keep from inadvertently spoiling any surprises, I’ll limit my description because I have no idea what is and is not an Easter egg here.

But video games equal quests and quests are excellent underpinnings for films as long as you strike the right tone. The recent Dungeons & Dragons movie knew that, which is why it was the first success in three attempts to turn that game into a good movie.

Writer Matthew Fogel (Minions: The Rise of Gru) balances light hearted humor with video game architecture that benefits from Illumination’s trademark vibrant color. Bowser gets an excellent music video moment custom made for Black, and Seth Rogan gives Donkey Kong a bratty quality I never realized he needed.

Plus, did you know there were these skeleton turtle zombies? AND little masked dystopian devil soldier guys who are simultaneously goth and cute as can be? But this side of the coin gets little attention, the filmmakers instead making a solidly family friendly flick with no grim undercurrents.

It’s simple enough for kids to enjoy it, it throws a little macabre humor at you via Lumalee (Juliet Jelenic), and it looks good. Not glorious, but definitely good. The game-like levels definitely go on for too long and you feel each of those scant 92 minutes, but it’s a pretty good time.

The Super Mario Bros. Movie feels to me like a fitting celebration of a series of beloved video games. But what do I know? As a movie, it’s perfectly entertaining.

Drunk History


by George Wolf

Holy Schnikes, look at this cast. From the leads to small supporting roles, Amsterdam is loaded with Oscar winners, Oscar nominees, living legends, critical darlings and even one of biggest pop stars in the world.

And while Taylor Swift equates herself just fine, it’s the endless stream of veteran screen talent that keeps David O. Russell’s historical dramedy from collapsing much earlier than it actually does.

In the 1930s, Doctor Burt Berendsen (Christian Bale) and attorney Harold Woodman (John David Washington) are sad to hear of the passing of their former Army CO, General Bill Meekins (Ed Begley, Jr.). But Liz Meekins (Swift) is suspicious of her father’s death, and she pleads with Burt for the quick, secretive autopsy that ends up suggesting murder.

And that leads to an actual murder, with Burt and Harold on the run as the prime suspects, until Burt’s voiceover narration takes us back to 1918, when the two friends first met in the war that was supposed to end all wars. Both men suffered disfiguring injuries, and treatment from feisty nurse Valerie (Margot Robbie) spawns a deep friendship that fate rekindles in the 30s.

While Burt and Harold try to stay one step ahead of two detectives on their case (Matthias Schoenaerts and Alessandro Nivola), Valerie helps them try to connect the many dots that point to a shocking and dangerous conspiracy,

This is writer/director Russel’s first feature since 2015’s Joy, and it’s pretty clear the in last 7 years he’s developed a healthy respect for both Wes Anderson and Rian Johnson. Russell builds the whodunnit with criss-crossing layers of intrigue that recall Knives Out, and populates it with a sea of characters sporting detailed, Anderson-esque eccentricities.

And from Bale, Robbie and Washington, to Michael Shannon, Anya Taylor-Joy, Rami Malek, Andrea Riseborough, Timothy Olyphant, Zoe Saldana and more, the sheer fun of watching these marvelous actors dig in keeps you invested until you realize this should all be headed somewhere, shouldn’t it?

It should, and it eventually does, as Robert DeNiro’s General Gil Dillenbeck pulls the film into a retelling of the “Business Plot” conspiracy of 1933. And that’s when the levee of heavy-handedness breaks.

Russell impressed with a series of tonally assured films (Three Kings, I Heart Huckabees, Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle) before the gimmickry of Joy. While the narration here is less distracting, once Russell pairs it with DeNiro’s speechifying, the lack of restraint is disappointing. There are valid points to be made about history repeating itself, but Russell doesn’t trust us to figure them out for ourselves.

Regardless of how much you already know about the Business Plot conspiracy, Amsterdam will give you an interesting history lesson. And if you laugh at the way your drunk uncle fills a straightforward story with rambling anecdotes after Thanksgiving dinner, then it will be an entertaining one, too.

Downtown, Waiting For You Tonight

Last Night in Soho

by George Wolf and Hope Madden

A pair of Beats headphones is Last Night in Soho‘s first clue that you’re not where you think you are.

The sights and sounds of young Ellie’s (Thomasin McKenzie) bedroom scream 1960s London. And though that’s where and when she’d really like to be living, Ellie is a modern-day British country girl, brought up by her Grandparents after her mother’s suicide years earlier.

Ellie dreams of a career as a designer, so she’s thrilled by an acceptance letter from the London College of Fashion. But once in the big city, the shy “country mouse” has trouble adjusting to the pace and the pressures of city life.

Her refuge becomes vivid dreams from the swinging 60s era she celebrates, detailed visions that put Ellie alongside Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy), a young singer looking for fame and fortune among a sea of predatory men.

As Sandie’s trust in nightclub manager Jack (Doctor Who‘s Matt Smith) leads her down a dark and dangerous path, Ellie’s dreams turn truly terrifying. And the deeper Ellie is drawn into Sandie’s world, the more she believes a creepy old dude from her local pub (Terence Stamp) is really present-day Jack, who needs to pay for his past misdeeds with a succession of starstruck London girls.

Director and co-writer Edgar Wright slows his often frantic pace this time, trading those trademark edits for a more languid, appropriately dreamy vibe. His love of color is still front and center, and a giallo pastiche is just one in his Soho arsenal. There’s a time-hopping mystery here, sitting at the center of bloody thrills and a Black Swan-esque exploration of female trauma.

Wright hooks you early with delightful period details and – of course – some effortlessly hip throwback tunes for the soundtrack. His camera is nimble and his faming is precise, often using mirrors to exquisitely blend Ellie’s dreams with Sandie’s past.

McKenzie is doe-eyed perfection as the naive Ellie, an innocent somehow working out her own issues through the tragic past of a kindred spirit. Taylor-Joy is equally wonderful, bringing sad authenticity to Sandie’s quick descent from confident talent to broken soul. Stamp and Smith provide terrific support, eclipsed only by the bullseye casting of Diana Rigg (in her final role) as Ellie’s landlady.

Last Night in Soho is an often glorious mashup of settings and genres, and though you’ll recognize all of them, the package still carries a postmark that’s uniquely Wright’s. Maybe that’s why the resolution lands as curiously rote.

As was the case with the darling zom-rom-com Shaun of the Dead, it seems as if Wright doesn’t have the meanness to make a scary movie. He understands them, clearly, and bends their tropes to his will. Here he pulls apart Hitchcock and Argento to invert the genre’s fetishistic relationship with violence against women. Wright does this with such panache for 2/3 of the film that the final act feels abruptly tidy, too clear a reversal.

Does it spoil the Soho experience? Don’t be silly, baby! This film is a gas, but one that leaves you with with a little reminder that Wright’s most perfectly groovy film is still to come.

The Kids Are Not Alright

Here Are the Young Men

by Christie Robb

Based on Rob Doyle’s 2014 novel of the same name, Eoin Macken’s Here Are the Young Men is a bleak look at the emotional lives of three boys poised between school, with a somewhat sheltered boyhood, and real life, with its associated responsibility.

The boys witness the death of a little girl and their individual reactions send them down different paths. Rez (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Vikings) sinks into depression and nihilism, more or less disappearing from the movie.

Matthew (Dean-Charles Chapman, 1917/Game of Thrones) desires the stabilization of a proper job and a romantic relationship. Kearney (an unsettling Finn Cole, Peaky Blinders) is awakened, inspired by the immediacy of death, and gives himself permission to satisfy his dark impulses.

The boys’ days and nights are awash in a staggering amount and variety of drugs, downed with beer or vodka. Much of the movie is shot out of focus or uses staccato editing to reinforce the sense that the boys are more or less skating over the surface of their lives, ignoring the emotional depths beneath.

Despite their purported friendship and shared traumatic experience, there’s no solace for the boys in their relationships with each other. The few adults that occasionally appear are either menacing, distracted, or bearers of tired bromides. The young men are isolated and left to stumble along, making choices that aren’t informed by reason. The choices are a creature’s response to an applied stimulus.

Matthew and Kearney’s inner lives are somewhat illustrated by shots of their television screens, which show a kind of cartoonish representation of their subconscious or inner lives. Sometimes the TV shows what is happening to a character separated from the others by distance. I imagine this is an attempt to compensate for the lack of the novel’s inner monologues. And it’s ok, but is kind of jarring, given the spare emotional tone of the rest of the film, and inconsistently applied.

You might ask where the young women are. Well, there is one, Jen (Anya Taylor-Joy, The Queen’s Gambit), Matthew’s sometime girlfriend. Taylor-Joy is magnetic and draws the eye in every scene. There’s just not much for her to do except to express disappointment and defend her virginity. With another actress, this character would be all but forgettable. In the real world, Jen would hang out with other people.

Ultimately, the film serves as a reminder of similar, but more memorable entries in the genre like A Clockwork Orange or Trainspotting. Here Are the Young Men fails to differentiate this generation’s young men from the generations proceeding them. Just more sludge in the puddle of toxic masculinity.

The Kids Are Not All Right

The New Mutants

by Hope Madden

Let’s be honest. Logan’s dead, JLaw’s past her contract obligations, Dark Phoenix bombed and the X-Men are in need of some new blood and maybe a new direction.

The franchise does make a big of a zig with its latest offshoot. The New Mutants is essentially a YA horror film. Co-writer/director Josh Boone’s premise may be comic book, but his execution is angst and PG-13 scares.

Dani Moonstar (Blu Hunt) wakes up to find herself in a locked-down, mainly vacant, definitely old and unmistakably spooky asylum of some sort. Here Dani will learn to control her power—whatever that might be—with the help of the sole custodian of Dani and four other special youngsters, Dr. Reyes (Alice Braga).

Focusing exclusively on adolescence allows the film to deliver, undiluted, the main concepts of the franchise: embrace your differences, forgive yourself, accept others for what they are, master your own potential and stick it to the man. Fine ideas, every one of them, and certainly common themes in YA.

As our plucky hero, Hunt struggles to find anything close to authenticity in her dreamy dialog, but the balance of the cast is strong.

The always remarkable Anya Taylor-Joy relishes the wicked girl role while Game of Thrones’s Maisie Williams (battling Taylor-Joy for largest eyes in a human face) is a deeply empathetic, awkward girl with a crush.

That the crush is not on one of the two boys in lockdown—played by Charlie Heaton and Henry Zaga—is a refreshing change of pace charmingly underscored by the teens’ apparent fixation with the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Boone, whose 2014 effort The Fault In Our Stars defines angst porn, knows YA. His combination of these two genres is a bit of a misfire, though, particularly when the final, big, giant scare is revealed. Yikes—and I don’t mean that in a good way.

New Mutants is a film trying too hard to cash in on proven youth market formulas, but the concoction fizzles. It doesn’t really work as an angsty romance, misses the mark as a horror movie and never for a minute feels like a superhero flick.

Fright Club: Blond(e)s in Horror

We want to thank Cati Glidewell, also know as The Blonde in Front, for joining us to talk through some of the best blond(e)s in horror. There’s a lot of names here, but I think we may have proved that—with a few really bloody exceptions—blondes do seem to have more fun in these movies.

The Dudes

6. Francis Dollarhyde (Tom Noonan), Manhunter (1986)

Tom Noonan’s entire career is defined by a mixture of tenderness and menace. It begins with his unusual physical appearance, including his almost colorless locks, and ends with performances that realize everything broken and horrifying about a character—especially Francis Dollarhyde. The terrifying chemistry between Dollarhyde and a blind Joan Allen’s is heartbreaking perfection.

5. Mark Lewis (Carl Boehm), Peeping Tom (1960)

Like Norman Bates across the pond, England’s Mark Lewis (Carl Boehm) is an innocent. Boehm’s blank stare, his frightened mouse reflexes, his blond locks all contribute to a character so tender you can’t help but root for him—although it would be great if he’d stop murdering women.

4. Kakihara (Tadanobu Asano), Ichi the Killer (2001)

A bleach blond in a Japanese film will automatically draw the eye, but Kakihara’s not just here to catch your attention. Genius filmmaker Takashi Miike and Tadanobu Asano created this badass to upend your expectations. He’s the baddie, right? And man-child Ichi is the innocent? Or is Miike toying with you?

3. Gage (Miko Hughs), Pet Sematary (1989)

Get the Kleenex ready because the ridiculously cute Mike Hughs has a date with a semi. A toddler when he filmed this movie, Hughs really turns in a remarkable performance, whether he’s tugging your heart strings or slicing through Fred Gwynne’s Achilles tendon.

2. David (Keiffer Sutherland), The Lost Boys (1987)

Hubba hubba. The rock star duds. The homoerotic relationship with Jason Patrick. The mullett! Keiffer Sutherland’s bad boy David was so cool you couldn’t help wanting to hang out with him. Eating maggots seems like a small price to pay, really. Nobody said the cool kids’ table would be tasty.

1. John Ryder (Rutger Hauer), The Hitcher (1986)

There are those with a thing for bad boys, and then there are those with a thing for Rutger Hauer. He’s not a bad boy—he’s not even in the same zip code. His John Ryder will make you feel all kinds of weird things because he’s not your garden variety dangerous character. What he will do to you, to that nice family in the station wagon, to your new girlfriend, is more awful than anything you can think of.

The Women

6. Chris Hargeson (Nancy Allen), Carrie (1976)

When De Palma launched the ultimate in mean girl cinema, Nancy Allen delivered the ultimate mean girl. Chris Hargeson’s bloodthirsty princess energy has to convey something horrifying if she is to properly offset what poor Carrie White has to content with at home. Luckily for us (not so much for Carrie), she does.

5. Tomasin (Anya Taylor Joy), The Witch (2015)

Watching The Witch, you realize that writer/director Robert Eggers chose everything: every sound, every image, every color. And while Tomasin’s family looked like gaunt, hard working, colorless cogs in God’s wilderness wheel, Thomasin did not. Even as we open on Anya Taylor Joy, confessing her sins and begging forgiveness, she is lit from within. A beacon. It’s just that her light has caught the wrong kind of attention.

4. Casey (Drew Barrymore), Scream (1996)

The genius Wes Craven and his producer Drew Barrymore pulled an incredible and soon-to-be endlessly copied sleight of hand with Casey—the spunky female played by the biggest star in the cast. With this character, Craven introduces the meta-movie-commentary that defines this film while simultaneously upending our own unconscious investment in those tropes by killing Casey off in Act 1.

3. Carol (Catherine Deneuve), Repulsion (1965)

We went back and forth. Would it be Deneuve as gorgeous seductress Miriam in Tony Scott’s 1983 vampire film The Hunger, or innocent driven to madness Carol in Polanski’s Repulsion? (He does know how to torture innocent young women, doesn’t he?) Deneuve’s performance in Repulsion is so compelling and difficult—playing primarily alone for about half the film—that it won out, but either way, she’s a blonde to be reckoned with.

2. Pamela Voorhees (Betsy Palmer), Friday the 13th (1980)

The OG Karen (to steal a phrase from this episode’s co-host The Blonde in Front), Pamela Voorhees has a plan and she’s sticking to it. This funny business among the camp counselors needs to be addressed, corrected. Enough is enough. Betsy Palmer’s performance is spot-on, so comforting and in control before it goes completely batshit. Jason may get all the love, but Mrs. Voorhees took care of business first.

1. Carrie White (Sissy Spacek), Carrie (1976)

Like his idol Hitchcock, Brian De Palma had a thing about blondes—what that fair hair represented, what it could mean. For De Palma, it might be the bombshell of Angie Dickson’s character in Dressed to Kill, or the innocence of Carrie White. Of course, Sissy Spacek’s Oscar nominated performance in the film was what really sold this sheltered, shell-shocked little lamb, but you can’t deny she had that look.

Elemental, My Dear


by George Wolf

Honestly, I’m not digging this title, yet it somehow fits.

For the story of an intellectual giant, Radioactive seems too easy, too cheesy, and a bit dismissive. Similarly, the film itself becomes a sum of often conflicting parts, flirting with greatness while chasing too many bad pitches.

Rosamund Pike stars as Marie Sklodowska Curie, the Warsaw-born scientist who became the first woman to win the Nobel Prize, the first person to win it again and the only person to win it in two different scientific fields. Her groundbreaking work in France with husband Pierre Curie identified two new elements (polonium and radium) and the theory of radioactivity itself, leading to world-changing advancements in medicine and, of course, warfare.

Director Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis, The Voices) seems intent on honoring Curie’s spirit via the most experimental film treatment she can get away with. Animated graphics attempt to illustrate Curie’s theories on atomic movement, while tones are jarringly shifted with futuristic vignettes that glimpse the more devastating consequences of radioactivity.

Too often, Satrapi is hamstrung by screenwriter Jack Thorne’s overly broad and simplified adaptation of Lauren Redniss’s source book, which is itself a work of original art, photographs, graphics and text. Bringing such hybrid energy to the screen demands a unified vision from writer and director, but Satrapi and Thorne seem at odds whenever they try to expand their scope.

Pike is the unifier here, with an instantly engaging and fully formed portrait of a genius understandably ferocious about defending her work from being usurped or dismissed by male colleagues. Pike humanizes Curie with a mix of defiance and insecurity, frank sexuality and a fierce commitment to husband Pierre (Sam Riley, in a thoughtfully understated and effective turn).

The third act addition of Anya-Taylor Joy as the Curie’s eldest daughter Irene (who would also win a Nobel Prize in Chemistry) only cements the film as being most resonant when it is the most personal.

And it can’t go unnoticed that in these science-denying times, Curie’s story is a needed reminder of the importance of pursuing knowledge, of research and researchers.

Curie was one for ages. Radioactive does suffer from scattered elements, but ultimately turns in watchable, satisfying results.



by Cat McAlpine

Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition…had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.”

So begins Jane Austen’s final novel, and so too starts Emma., with text across the screen that almost seems to smirk. We find Emma as she is described: beautiful, put together, and just mischievous enough. She is also vain, childish, and compulsive in a way that mysteriously endears you to her. Anya Taylor-Joy (The VVitch, Thoroughbreds) delivers a masterful performance that is always on the verge of a laugh or a tear, depending on which way the day goes.

Well matched in chemistry and in his ability to show an astonishing depth beneath the veneer of decorum is Johnny Flynn as George Knightley. I have loved Flynn since Lovesick was titled Scrotal Recall (yes, really), and his performance in Emma. is earnest and authentic as always.

The character growth, across the cast but most importantly for Emma and Knightley, is masterfully done by both and makes this one of my most favorite period pieces. There are no nonsensical professions of love, you can see every spark light and burn – even in the slightest nods and prolonged bits of eye contact. Josh O’Connor so well telegraphs his nervous and misplaced intentions as Mr. Elton, that it’s even funnier that Emma is in the dark ’til the end.

Supporting the hilarious, heartfelt journey is a cast of wild and weird characters with impeccable timing, namely Bill Nighy as Mr. Woodhouse, Mia Goth as Harriet Smith, and Miranda Hart as the unfathomably lovable Miss Bates. In fact, it is the background of Emma.’s tapestry that makes the story so vibrant. So rarely do the wealthy find themselves truly alone, and director Autumn de Wilde capitalizes on the presence of society members and household staff alike—often out of focus but still on screen—to mine even more comedic opportunities.

In her first full length feature, de Wilde deftly uses the camera to double down on subtext and deepen the most important moments. Her use of camera emphasizes the screen as its own type of narration and honors the story’s origin as a novel. Eleanor Catton’s debut screenplay expertly weaves the multitude of characters and circumstances. Neither de Wilde nor Catton is afraid to slow down and strike a vignette, but the pacing is only occasionally labored, as the gorgeous cinematography and costume design alike provide plenty to gawk at.

Finally, I would be remiss to leave out the score, which has its own humor and cagey attitude to support the litany of other masterful elements. The entire production has a beautiful, rhythmic choreography to which all things, movement, people, and intentions, inevitably adhere.

I often both benefit and suffer from being sporadically read. As George Knightly muses, “Emma has been meaning to read more ever since she was twelve years old.” Me too, bud. I’ve never read Emma, or seen an adaptation, so I can’t tell you how well this holds up to the source material. Based on the reactions of the mostly middle-aged female audience in my showing, it holds up marvelously. Based on my own viewing, this is a charming, funny, and soon-to-be-classic viewing experience for anyone.

Standup Comic


by George Wolf

M. Night Shyamalan has been grappling with expectations for nearly twenty years. They were high when he was blowing our minds with twist endings, but the craving for another Sixth Sense experience led its follow up, Unbreakable, to be wrongly labeled as a step down.

After years of diminished returns led to zero expectations for a Shyamalan project, Unbreakable began to get its due in retrospect, a hand the writer/director played perfectly with the riveting Split three years ago. That film stood tall on its own, but when the drop-the-mic final scene revealed it as an Unbreakable sequel all along, expectations for the next round went skyward pretty damn fast.

Or was that just me?

I know it wasn’t, and while Glass caps the trilogy with a dive into comic book lore that is completely fascinating to watch unfold, it lands with a strangely unsatisfying thud.

Split left us with The Beast – the most dangerous of Kevin Crumb’s (James McAvoy) “horde” of personalities – on the loose in Philly. Glass begins with David Dunn (Bruce Willis), who has spent the years since Unbreakable running a security firm with this son (Spencer Treat Clark in a nice return) and walking the streets as a mysterious vigilante hero dubbed “The Overseer”, tracking him down.

Their standoff leads to an early burst of crowd-pleasing action, and a trip to the psych ward for both Crumb and Dunn – the very same hospital where Elijah “Mr. Glass” Price (Samuel L. Jackson) has been serving his life sentence.

Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) arrives to define the film’s central conflict, telling them all that superpowers are only for comic books, and everything remarkable about their lives can be deconstructed and explained, much like a magic trick.

Shyamalan’s feel for pace and sequencing is fine here, as is his changing color saturation when superhero themes gain strength. The film’s first two acts build a compelling arc on the fragility of human potential set against the ambitious premise of comic books as real life.

As Crumb and his 23 identities, McAvoy is completely mesmerizing once again, able to move freely between contrasting personalities with such incredible precision the understated performances around him seem only right.

Willis’s default setting of steely glares serves him well as the reluctant savior, Jackson gives his scheming mastermind the right mix of brilliance and condescension, and Paulson wraps Dr. Staple in a fitting air of mystery from her first introduction.

It is only Anya Taylor-Joy, returning as Casey “the girl The Beast let go,” whose talent seems ill-placed. While Casey is seemingly there as a reminder of Crumb’s humanity, the frequent tight closeups on Taylor-Joy’s comic book ready eyes become a heavy handed blur to the message.

But with Split putting Shyamalan firmly back in his groove, expectations for an unforgettable end to the trilogy create a uniquely painted corner. Potent storytelling gives way to declarations that ring of self-serving defenses of the filmmaker’s own work, while more obvious foreshadowing overtakes the nifty, hide-in-plain-sight subtlety.

Would Glass have worked better if we hadn’t been standing around staring all this time? Probably. but Shyamalan got us here with skill, and he gets us out with a film that’s easy to respect, but hard to cheer for.

Good Breeding


by Hope Madden

Directing his first feature, Cory Finley adapts his play about teenage girls planning a murder. It’s a buddy picture, a coming-of-age tale, Superbad, if you will. No, not really.

Finley draws us into the palatial estate where Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) reluctantly tutors Amanda (Olivia Cooke). The two were friends in middle school, but that was a lifetime ago. Now seniors, Amanda is an outcast, having personally euthanized her family’s suffering thoroughbred horse.

Lily has her own problems.

Wicked, surprising, unapologetic, cynical and buoyed by flawless performances, Thoroughbreds is a mean little treat.

Amanda doesn’t feel. She’s not a sociopath, exactly. She just doesn’t feel anything—joy, sorrow, regret, fear. Empathy.

Lily, who tears up quickly and is forever retracting statements or pausing to perform the correct social cue at the acceptable time, isn’t sure whether she relates to or envies Amanda’s plight.

Not that Amanda sees it as a plight, exactly. She doesn’t care, does she?

Cooke mystifies, her observant but emotionally disinterested performance a magical thing to witness. Amanda has nearly perfected the art of pretending to be normal, pretending to care.

The fact that Lily can see the advantage of this is what sets this coming-of-age tale apart from others. Because, yes, from her perch inside the mansion, Lily is coming of age. Just not like the rest of us.

If Cooke is great, Taylor-Joy is better. An actor who wears her vulnerability in her every expression, she gives great depth to this character on the precipice of adulthood, learning, as she must, that to prosper in her world you need to rid yourself of human emotions and replace them with acceptably false facsimiles.

In the way that Oliver Stone, by way of Gordon Gecko, proselytized that greed is good, Finley uses Lily and Amanda to suggest that empathy is bad.

Their ultimate foil, the societal underling as disposable to their class as an animal—a horse, even—is Anton Yelchin, in his final role. Digging deep into an underwritten character and turning up more authenticity and personality than Finley can fit onscreen, Yelchin’s pathetic loser offers all the humanity lacking from this pristine world.

It’s a fascinating look at how the other class comes of age, blackly comedic and biting.