movie film review | chris tookey

Thelma And Louise

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  Thelma And Louise Review
Tookey's Rating
9 /10
Average Rating
8.07 /10
Geena Davis , Susan Sarandon , Harvey Keitel
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Written by: Callie Khouri

Released: 1991
Genre: DRAMA
Origin: US
Length: 128

Thelma, a downtrodden wife (Geena Davis, pictured right), and world-weary waitress Louise (Susan Sarandon, pictured left) go on a weekend which turns sour. Louise shoots a man who tries to rape Thelma, and decides to go on the run to Mexico. Robbed of their money, they hold up a convenience store and are pursued by the FBI.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Ignore the solemn socio-sexual analysts: this is no feminist tract, but an exhilarating female riposte to the buddy-buddy movie. Some of the world's silliest feminists criticized the film for being insufficiently militant: neither Thelma nor Louise displays even a hint of lesbianism, and their first impulse when in trouble is to phone up their men (a perfectly natural reaction, but not one which will endear them to radical feminists). Surprisingly soon after nearly being raped, Thelma picks up a male hitch-hiker and goes to bed with him - not very likely, I admit, but Geena Davis's enthusiasm is enough to make you believe it at the time.

The movie isn't perfect. Like many of its male characters, it sags in the middle; there's something slightly depressing about any film where guns and cars are used to confer independence and strength on the leading characters; and the fate of the truck-driver's tanker smacks of escapist fantasy. But why shouldn't one action movie in ten thousand respond to women's fantasies, rather than men's?

Like most big commercial successes, it contains at least one timely social insight: namely, that feminism can be sexy. Geena Davis transforms herself from submissive child-woman to resilient adult so attractively that she will undoubtedly influence more women to re-evaluate their lives, than the entire works of Andrea Dworkin.

Susan Sarandon has to make a less positive transformation and is lumbered with the only laboured scenes in the film, as she decides whether to accept her boyfriend's clumsy proposal of marriage; but hers too is a performance of taste, intelligence and warmth.

The screenplay, a first-time effort by Callie Khouri, wittily inverts the audience's expectations all the way along, and was the first since Alien to harness Ridley Scott's visual talent to an involving story. Scott's flair for using landscape to arouse emotion (a memorable aspect of Blade Runner and Black Rain) gives the film more than just surface gloss: it lends it a mythic, allegorical clarity. Adrian Biddle's photography was Oscar-nominated, as was Thom Noble's editing.

Some commentators have found the end nihilistic, or a blatant rip-off of Butch Cassidy; but for the audience it's inevitable and emotionally satisfying. It contains a central truth about feminism: there is no return to dependency on men, any more than a child can regain innocence.

The whole film is an exhilarating celebration of popular cinema's ability to turn stories of ordinary people into myths with a social resonance; and the final frames are a signal that, whatever the fate of Thelma and Louise themselves, their story will survive. This is more than an entertaining movie: it's a great one. It won the London Critics' Circle award as Best Film.

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