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aka - Thelma & Louise
USA 1991
Directed by
Ridley Scott
128 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Thelma And Louise

Ridley Scott’s polished direction, superb cinematography by Adrian Biddle and strong performance by the entire cast make this iconic film hugely entertaining. It is however the Academy Award-winning “feminist” script by Callie Khouri that established its main claim to fame. 

Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon play the title characters, the former a party animal trapped in an unhappy marriage to a prize jerk (played perfectly by Christopher McDonald), the other, a no-nonsense even uptight, single with a troubled past waitressing in a busy diner. They leave their Arkansas homes and head off for a girl’s weekend away but things go horribly wrong at their first stop after Thelma’s drunken bar-room flirting goes too far and Louise shoots a lout who tries to rape her friend. Figuring that they were never going to see justice in this redneck part of the  world the women flee in their green vintage T-Bird convertible but their situation escalates beyond their wildest imaginings.

Thelma & Louise is a stylish road-cum-buddy movie with excellent use made of locations as the women evolve from emotional containment to liberation, a progression mirrored in their transition from cramped interiors of their home and workplace to the wide open spaces of Montana.

For all its entertainment value this is however exactly where the film has problems as a feminist statement, for it is pure escapism and hardly offers a constructive option for women on a real social level. Yes, the gals get to payback a number of male dickheads including, other than the would-be rapist, a narcissistic highway patrolman and a yobbo truck driver but it is evident from the get-go that these women are digging their own graves. Balancing the basic bad male versus good female opposition Harvey Keitel plays a sympathetic cop trying to convince the women to give themselves up and Michael Madsen, Louise's helpful sometime boyfriend (although he does have a worryingly volatile temper).

The famous Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid-like closing shot that leaves the two women hanging in space over a canyon may be emotionally affirmative but in a glib way that hardly has the substantial political response to rape found in, for instance, The Accused (1988). Despite this,Thelma & Louise is a fun movie with Sarandon and Davis giving first class performances and Scott directing with typical flair. It has garnered a lofty position in the pop cultural canon, not least because it was Brad Pitt's first big screen appearance.




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