Two childhood friends, who used to go horseback riding together as
little girls, since grown apart. Both
come from affluence. Amanda
(Olivia Cooke) got herself in trouble, and dropped out of school, so she
needed tutoring, and Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) was the logical choice.
She's home from boarding school, on an internship, before college
enrollment. It appears that
Amanda is the needy one and Lily is the one who has her act together, but
appearances can be deceiving.
The tutoring sessions quickly lose their focus as Lily seems
somehow nervous and condescending at the same time.
Amanda is smart enough to know the answers, but also perceptive
enough to ascertain that Lily's heart isn't in it.
That's OK, they can just hang out for a while, like they used to
do. Their Moms don't seem to
mind. They watch old movies
and make comments about the characters' performances. (An ironic thing to
do because we're watching a movie watching them watching a movie.)
We get to meet Lily's creepy stepdad, Mark (Paul Sparks), who seems
both imperious and hateful. His
relationships with Lily's Mom is obviously strained, though she's
apparently enjoying the fact that his money enables her to live a life of
leisure---expensive spas and tanning beds and hired help doing their
But the house, though opulent and elegant, is also empty of emotion
and devoid of any milk of human kindness.
And we're not feeling any from Lily, either, as she makes it clear
to Amanda that she hates her stepdad.
Amanda, we learn, is suffering from some disassociative disorder
that makes her unable to feel anything.
She says she got really good at faking emotions that she thought
she was supposed to have, generally matching other people's, but she's
since admitted to herself that they're not genuine.
She's in therapy for it, but mostly her therapists listen to her,
say “Hmm,” write something down, and then give her meds.
Which she's not that interested in taking, because she wants to
feel like herself---that is, with generally no feelings at all.
When she listens to Lily complain bitterly about her stepdad,
Amanda asks Lily why she doesn't just get rid of him.
At first, she appears to be incensed by the very suggestion.
But later, she broaches the subject again, this time more
They go to a party one night---which is the only time we see
anybody else their age. They
meet Tim (Anton Yelchin, in his last movie role before his death in a car
accident), a local small-time drug dealer.
He's not exactly a likeable character, but they think he might be
useful to them. So they
manipulate him---they claim they want to buy some recreational drugs from
him. Then they record the
conversation on a cell phone, knowing that he's already on probation and
if they turn him in he'll go to prison.
So now they have him where they want him.
And what they want him to do is help them get rid of the problem of
No, things don't go according to plan.
And when they don't, we're not real sure where this is headed,
which is the primary interest in this quiet, solemn, bare-bones indie film
that seems to enjoy long silences, a small cast, and eerie background
music. It's not for
everyone. But it's definitely
a change from the usual Hollywood formulas.