Thelma & Louise

"Essential"

Thelma & Louise Review


Thelma & Louise is a landmark film, one that defines the cinematic terrain for female empowerment and one that effortlessly blends powerful ideas about gender with an endlessly engaging story. The film weaves a story about women in distress, who come from depressed backgrounds and seedy locales, which is not entirely different from any prototypical Lifetime Movie of the Week. The genius of Ridley Scott's direction and Callie Khouri's groundbreaking screenplay is that they allow the film to flirt with standard archetypal conventions, all the while upending conventional notions of women -- particularly women in the sort of situation Thelma and Louise find themselves in.

The movie jumps headfirst into the action without any necessary build-up or labored background. We meet Louise, a headstrong waitress, and her younger, flighty friend Thelma (Geena Davis) as they finalize plans for their road trip. Nothing more or less complicated than that. Where they are going is fairly vague; why they are going is more telling: their explicit purpose in taking a trip is to escape from the men in their lives. Jimmy (Michael Madsen), Louise's longtime casual partner, is a gruff mechanic who loves Louise, but doesn't know how to show it. Darryl (Christopher McDonald), Thelma's husband, is a plain loser, a carpet salesman with a cheesy mustache, bouffant-fro, and a lack of respect for his wife.

Louise and Thelma have no wild intentions or hidden agendas as they set off on their trip -- other than to give their significant others a scare and give themselves a break. Over the course of a seemingly normal road trip night, however, their best laid plans go off to stray. The ladies stop off at a sleazy roadside bar, where Thelma is propositioned by a nasty trucker and is beaten and nearly raped, until Louise shows up at just the right moment. In a fit of rage and the heat of the moment, Louise shoots the bastard dead. All of the sudden, Thelma and Louise are fugitives, and the film turns into one of the best buddies-on-the-run movies ever made.

Thelma & Louise was pioneering in the sophistication of its gender dissection when it was released. When Thelma initially wants to call the cops after Louise kills the truck driver, Louise responds, "You think they'd believe us when the whole bar saw you dancin' with him the whole night? We don't live in that kind of world." And it's true -- they didn't, and nearly 20 years later, we still don't. This film dared to flagrantly violate the divide between how men and women are allowed to act in motion pictures. Men kill freely and are called heroes. Women, on the other hand, are damsels, and never the hero. Not Thelma and Louise, who kill a man, go on the lam, steal when they need to, and even blow up a semi, but not only are their actions permitted, they are explicitly justified.

Once the two friends are targeted as fugitives, an Arkansas cop (Harvey Keitel) begins searching for them with such dedication that he eventually begins to care for them -- he doesn't want to put them away, he wants to save them. For Thelma and Louise, however, "saving" is not a word they want to hear or an act they need. During their journey, Thelma and Louise discover themselves in a way they never could have at home, or even on a normal vacation -- their sudden brush with murder shifts them not merely from innocents into criminals, but from the enslaved into the awakened. They are not angry bitches on the run -- they are fully realized, they are enlightened, they are free.

In Thelma we see a young woman, left naive and a little dumb by her unfortunate upbringing, who over the course of this long journey finds an inner strength and world-worn wisdom she may have otherwise never attained. In Louise we see a whipsmart, weathered, independent woman who eventually discovers what she never thought possible -- that she deeply needs the support and guidance of a friend. One woman starts as the mother and the other as the daughter, and over the course of the film, the roles reverse. That is dynamic character development; that is brilliant screenwriting.

For Khouri's trouble, she won the Best Original Screenplay Oscar. As for Scott, the director of Blade Runner, Alien, and other such classics, Thelma & Louise remains one of his career-best films, a genre-defining, gender-flipping cultural icon of a movie. It is powerful, it is funny, it is ingenious... it is a modern classic.



Thelma & Louise

Facts and Figures

Run time: 130 mins

In Theaters: Friday 24th May 1991

Box Office Worldwide: $45.4M

Budget: $16M

Distributed by: MGM

Production compaines: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Fresh: 54 Rotten: 11

IMDB: 7.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , Mimi Polk

Starring: as Louise Elizabeth Sawyer, as Thelma Yvonne Dickinson, as Investigator Hal Slocumb, as J.D., as Jimmy Lennox, as Darryl Dickinson, as Max, Timothy Carhart as Harlan

Also starring: ,

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Cars 3 Movie Review

Cars 3 Movie Review

It's been six years since the last Cars movie (there were two Planes movies in...

The Beguiled Movie Review

The Beguiled Movie Review

In her inimitable loose style, Sofia Coppola remakes the 1971 Clint Eastwood movie from a...

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

The surprisingly thoughtful prequel trilogy comes to a powerful conclusion with this robust, dramatic thriller,...

It Comes At Night Movie Review

It Comes At Night Movie Review

This sharply original horror film not only approaches its premise from an unexpected angle, but...

Okja Movie Review

Okja Movie Review

As Tilda Swinton reteams with her Snowpiercer director, Korea's Bong Joon Ho, it's perhaps unsurprising...

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

This may be the third reboot of this franchise in 15 years, risking audience exhaustion,...

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Actually the fourth film in the series (don't forget the prequel Minions), this animated super-villain...

Advertisement
Baby Driver Movie Review

Baby Driver Movie Review

Wildly energetic and so cool it hurts, this action movie has been put together in...

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

There's a clear sense that this Tupac Shakur biopic is hoping to build on the...

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.