A message to men everywhere: treat your women well, otherwise, they’ll go on a crime spree.
Fed up with her boyfriend, live-wire Arkansas waitress Louise Sawyer (Susan Sarandon) persuades her friend Thelma Dickinson (Geena Davis), a naïve housewife burdened with a negligent, sexist husband, to hit the road with her for a simple weekend of freedom. But after accidentally killing a man, the two friends wind up outlaws blazing a cathartic trail across America.
It’s funny to see that the director of macho-dude hits such as Gladiator, Black Hawk down, and American Gangster, Ridley Scott, can make a film about two chicks on the run and it still be pretty cool.
The best thing that Scott does here with this direction is bring a lot of fun energy here. The plot is contrived, but the things that actually happen on this trip are pretty fun, and at times unbelievable but somehow Scott makes it all work with his heavy-hand of style. Scott keeps the action going at a nice pace and still allows time for these two characters to talk and actually be developed which is the least we could say for many other road movies.
The writing is also pretty good too with a lot of funny little moments of wit but also a great deal of reality that this film shows too. You may think it will hit the conventions of your ordinary road movie right off the bat, but it stays different and fresh somehow mainly because it’s script knows how to even out both comedy, drama, and some really fun action. Instead of these two ladies just roaming around the place, going crazy, and shooting people, we actually get some real poignant moments where these two just need an escape from their real shit-hole lives, and are just so happy to branch out of there boring days of just doing work, making dinner, and practically doing nothing new all day. This film showed that it wasn’t just the guys who could have all the crazy action fun, the girls could play just as harder also, which is also something very revolutionary about this film as well.
However, as inspirational and fun as it may be, some of it still feels a bit dated. There were moments where I listened to what these chicks said, and just thought to myself: “why are they saying that?”. Then, I actually realized that this film just wanted these two girls to say something naughty, or rough to be cool. Also, not every guy in the world just pops an automatic boner as soon as they see two women. I mean I understand that there are freaks out there, but this film really showed that almost every guy is a sex-freak that wants anything they can get right away.
My other problem with this film is probably the last 15 to 20 minutes, which would also include the ending. The whole time this film sort of fought against the convention of your ordinary action/road movie, but then somehow all the crazy car chases, and guns blowing up came out of nowhere, and thus, we had ourselves the same old action/road movie.
The ending was also very controversial at the time, but for me, I liked it. I thought it summed the whole 128 minutes I just watched pretty well, but the problem with the ending is the final shot. The final shot which many know, but I still won’t give away, should have been left on the screen longer than it was on. Scott faded to the happy-go-lucky montage/end credits way too quick for the audience to actually sink in what we just saw and then it’s impact is almost forgotten and lost. I know this may seem crazy to be pissed off about, but when I saw that ending I noticed some real problem with that.
These two gals also probably give their best performances to date. Susan Sarandon is awesome as the tough-as-nails, but also determined, Louise Sawyer and shows that she has that look that will make any man shriek once they see it. Geena Davis is also very good as the ditzy, but also very kind-hearted, Thelma Dickinson. Both of these great actresses work so well together and their chemistry builds up even more and more as the film goes on to the point of where you believe these two as friends. Not a moment with these two felt false and that’s what these two greats bring to the screen.
Let’s not also forget this was the first introduction into the hunk that they call, Brad Pitt as the sly and mysterious drifter, J.D. He has great scenes here as well and shows that he really was bound for greatness after all. The only thing he would have to do was take his shirt off, and he had no problem with that here.
Consensus: Thelma & Louise is guided by a great direction from Ridley Scott who has an even better script that knows how to balance out comedy, drama, and action very well with two great performances from David and Sarandon. However, by the end, the film starts to fall into convention and the last shot of the film feels too rushed off the screen, and therefore loses the whole impact that I felt I was going to have from this film.
This is indeed a nice one. Interesting in its depiction of escapism, and yet with an inherent power in the portrayal of two everyday women who go for a radical shift in the ways they’ve live their lives thus far. Nice review!
Indeed! It has some great ideas and actual fun to it but overall just could have been better. Thanks!
Brad Pitt looked so skinny back then and so did everyone. It’s also more a surprise to see Michael Madsen play a nice guy moreso than Keitel doing the same. And of course, Davis and Sarnadon are great and Oscar worthy here.