Thelma and Louise Review

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Two life-weary 30-something women in middle America escape their opressive lives for a weekend but find themselves on the run after a nasty episode in the car-park of a roadside bar...


Already hailed by some critics as a feminist manifesto for the 90s, Ridley Scott's Thelma & Louise is certainly pro­voking out-of-proportion raves from the right-on. While it falls short of full­blown masterpiece status, however, this self-discovery-on-the-road movie really is a genuine must-see, not only to keep up with what is set to be the post-Lambs dinner party movie topic, but also for Scott's breathless, epic realisation of a smart, funny script and bravura perfor­mances from its wonderful leading ladies.

This entertaining, giddy tale of two friends who become fugitives is a Big Deal, however, not because it is that original — screenwriter Callie Khouri couldn't have concocted this movie with­out Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid and William Goldman's much-copied pattern for an action adventure about comically wisecracking comrades — but because of the astonishing fact that this is the first big-budget Hollywood pic­ture in which the pals are gals.

And what gals! When Geena Davis' bullied housewife Thelma and Susan Sarandon's worn waitress Louise sneak off for a quiet weekend break from their cares (synonymous with their men), a drunken, foul-mouthed, would-be rapist in the car park of an Arkansas honky-tonk sparks Louise's pent-up rage and memories of past abuses. One unthink­ing, split-second of violence later, and the sickened, terrified women are on the run across the Southwest from a murder charge. That their route to freedom and fulfilment goes way over the top in a Bonnie And Bonnie scenario of escalat­ing disaster and crime is less troublesome than it ought to be, thanks to Davis and Sarandon raising hell and cracking wise with wild, womanly, utterly captivating style.

For a change, the actors trailing in their wake get to be the cyphers Thelma's repulsive husband, Louise's Peter Pan unable-to-commit fella, Plod of the FBI, the Nazi redneck cop, the lewd trucker, the seductive thief, with even Harvey Keitel's comprehending 'tec a tad paternalistic in his sympathy for the women. Few men-who-would-be-ideologically-sound will, however, dare to demur as angry women in audi­ences around them find their voices to cheer and scream thrilled encouragement at Thelma and Louise violently and hilari­ously taking charge.

One cannot but share these women's exultation as they answer "the call of the wild", speeding along the highway in a convertible T-bird, chugging Wild Turkey, swapping delightful one-liners and harmonising with the radio. Scott and his British collaborators have created a visual sensation using stunning, desolate land­scapes as a mythic back­drop for the women's daring odyssey. And the ultimate, significant difference that makes this buddy movie its very own heart-in-the-mouth job is that when Butch and Sundance went out they were holding guns; when Thelma and Louise are indelibly freeze-framed, pedal to the metal in their crazy act of defi­ance, they are hold­ing hands. Way to go!

Still compelling and inspiring after all these years.