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

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Advertisement
Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

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.