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Thelma & Louise (1991)

Film review: Thelma & Louise (1991), directed by Ridley Scott

Louise (Susan Sarandon) and Thelma (Geena Davis) are going away for a couple of days to a cabin somewhere. Thelma’s husband Darryl (Christopher McDonald) is a jerk, Louise is having issues wih her boyfriend Jimmy (Michael Madsen), and it would just be great to get away for a while.

The roadtrip starts out well. They stop at a bar, and Thelma gets drunk, dancing with some guy called Harlan (Timothy Carhart) … who is such a charming lad he decides he’ll have sex with her whether she wants him to or not. Because he’s also a jerk.

It’s the last time he’ll ever try anything like that with anyone again. Or anything else, for that matter. As a result, the two women suddenly find themselves on the run from the law …

Also starring Harvey Keitel as Hal, Stephen Tobolowsky as Max, and Brad Pitt, in the role that made him famous, as J.D, the charming rascal.

One thing is made painfully clear watching this film: men are scum. Law enforcement, who say they’re on the womens’ side share misogynistic jokes, and the rest are either very controlling, two-timing spouses, or rapists, or dirty-minded lorry drivers, or con artists. If that’s still Alabama today, I’ll be quite happy to give it a wide berth.

On the plus side, Jimmy seems like a nice enough guy. Good to see there’s at least one.

Stellar performances from Sarandon and Davis. Sarandon is the level-headed one (most of the time), while Davis goes from timid housewife with an unfulfilled sex life to gutsy armed robber. Thelma’s schoolgirl crush on J.D. is funny, but painfully naive. Still, if Brad Pitt sat in your back seat and kept calling you “Miss [insert first name here]” and be all sweet and complimentary, you’d be pretty blown away too.

This was the second time I’ve seen this film, I think. I have vague memories of having seen it at a friend’s house in the 90s, when I was maybe 13 years old or something like that. There were lots of girly giggles when Brad Pitt showed up, that’s about what I can remember. And why not, he’s certainly not an ugly man any way you look at it. My reaction at the time, however, was more of a “meh, he’s alright I guess, but no thanks, he’s too much of a pretty-boy” (this was also my teenage approach to DiCaprio).

Thelma & Louise is a road movie. Is it particularly feminine? Not really. It’s not a chick flick. It happens to star two strong women, but that doesn’t mean it’s a women only film. Then again, considering what chick flicks are normally like, I’d much rather watch this than Sex in the City.

It’s a moving film that you can’t help getting sucked into. As I already knew the ending, it didn’t come as a surprise, but it doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of the film. It’s marvellous.

4 out of 5 Chevys.

Traxy Thornfield

A Swedish introvert residing in Robin Hood Country (Nottingham, UK) with a husband and two cats. She's an eager participant in tabletop and play-by-post roleplaying, woodworking, photography and European travel, when there's not a plague on. Might get a novel out one of these days, if she doesn't get too distracted along the way.

2 thoughts on “Thelma & Louise (1991)

  1. At the time, it was read as a feminist film. A lot of women I knew took a great deal of satisfaction in the amount of rage the female leads expressed.

    1. I can see why. It’s refreshing to see women “breaking out” of stereotypical roles and doing things which would normally be seen as “stuff men do”. Even if that does happen to include armed robbery …

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