Thelma & Louise

Bottom Line: Nothin’ but a good time!

Directed by: Ridley Scott
Starring: Geena Davis, Susan Sarandon

I’ve found director Ridley Scott all over the map. Whereas he’s undeniably a master in the realm of science fiction (Alien, Blade Runner, Prometheus), his more dramatic work (Black Hawk Down, Hannibal) often plays out a bit mundane or ambitious. Thelma & Louise is a candid anomaly to the director I’ve known. Everything about it is elaborate, deep-fried southern escapism. It’s quite possible the film rides on with a few missteps, but only a true skeptic would pick up on those. There’s too much bold, unpredictable excitement to really care.

Now I’ve seen several road movies, enough to understand the variety in the sub-genre. Mine eyes have seen the serious (Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore) as well as the ridiculous (National Lampoon’s Vacation). I wouldn’t quite say Thelma & Louise is a ridiculous film, but it’s not all too serious either. It’s a laid-back drama with the perfect touch of action and humor. Our story centers on two women looking to escape their lives on a cross-country road trip. Thelma Dickinson (Geena Davis) is a cheerful, perky optimist under the wrest of her possessive, father-like husband; Louise Sawyer (Susan Sarandon) is an uptight, chain-smoking gal bored and stressed with her boyfriend. The two are best friends, but their respect for each other suddenly changes when they impulsively commit murder, robbery, and numerous other crimes to progress with their trip.

It’s actresses such as Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon that inject likability, even if their actions are far from agreeable and their moral standards far from admirable. It’s not the actresses themselves that give the film its witty spark, but how they so profoundly develop their characters from first-timer Callie Khouri’s Oscar-winning screenplay. These two gals are implausibly ruthless and bold; stunningly enough, the noteworthy feminist quality of the story itself is never stepped down by the typical “you go, girl” corn. There’s also a fabulous amount of style, only adding even more atmosphere to the film: Thelma and Louise’s road trip is highlighted by dozens of memorable tunes that deliver a sense of their personalities.

In my mind, a great drama is replete with nothing but three-dimensional characters, phenomenal acting, a well-paced script, and a plot memorable from beginning to end. I’d love to discuss the plot in its immaculate depth, but unfortunately, to do so would reveal the occurrences that are more fun just watching the film itself. Thelma & Louise is a fantastic drama with the power to maintain a growing, enthralled smile lit across the viewer’s face, man or woman.



15 thoughts on “Thelma & Louise

  1. Great review. Loved this one.

    “These two gals are implausibly ruthless and bold; stunningly enough, the noteworthy feminist quality of the story itself is never stepped down by the typical β€œyou go, girl” corn.” I agree.

  2. The characters seemed unoriginal to me. Geena Davis’ husband is abusive, the man in the bar tries to rape her, Brad Pitt robs them of their money. Men are bad. Got it.

    The whole thing started when Louise shoots that bad guy in the bar for using profanity. Now they’re heroes? Um ok.

    • You bring up a good argument here. However, most of the reason for a road trip was to have an escape from men themselves, right? The film seemed to build on an idea that some things in life (men, in this case) are nearly impossible to escape, no matter how hard you try.

      *slight spoilers ahead*
      Louise does shoot the man outside the bar right after he has said something like “I should have just f###ed her.” I don’t believe she was offended by profanity so much as she was defensive of Thelma, whom he had just raped. Perhaps they’re something of antiheroes, as opposed to heroes?

      • “she was defensive of Thelma, whom he had just raped.” Did he actually rape her? That would change things considerably.

        I didn’t mean it was the profanity itself, I think she just felt insulted and it was the heated moment that set the entire movie in motion.

    • This was a very rare surprise in Scott’s career. The only other feminist drama I can think of that succeeded proficiently with a male director was Martin Scorsese’s Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. And as I said, I’m usually disappointed by Ridley Scott’s dramas. I personally believe we need more science fiction from him.

  3. Good review. I didn’t really love this movie, but I definitely felt involved with this relationship between the two and was intrigued with what Scott was able to do with this material. For a pretty conventional, run-of-the-mill road movie, there’s some neat twists and turns that it takes and comes off as fun and believable.

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