Thelma & Louise
Directed by Ridley Scott. Starring Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis, Harvey Keitel, Michael Madsen, Christopher McDonald, Stephen Tobolowsky. (1991, R, 128 min.)
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., May 24, 1991
Thelma (Davis) and Louise (Sarandon) take off for a weekend vacation. They stop for drinks at a roadside joint (where the bar band consists of Charlie Sexton and crew) and when a local lothario tries to rape Thelma in the parking lot -- well, Louise just has to blow him away. With that blast they're off and running -- from somewhere near “Deep Shit,” Arkansas (as they describe it) to the end of the road which is mythopoetically somewhere in the heart of John Ford country. That one glitch in the holiday weekend leads these two into a race across the highways of the Southwest in a pitched battle with circumstances. Chased by an ever-increasing number of law enforcement types, Thelma and Louise find themselves sticking up grocery stores, resisting arrest, blowing things up and knocking things down. Just the day before they had been regular ol' Arkansas gals. Now they're on the lam, are wanted in several states and they've never been happier. Never in doubt are the ramifications of the film's events. The interpretations are political and feminist without ever becoming didactic or polemical. What you're not prepared for is how funny the film is. Director Scott here reveals a heretofore undisclosed talent for comic timing and, of equal surprise, keeps his propensity for power-packed imagery (Blade Runner, Alien, Black Rain) in check and at the service of the story. Thelma & Louise is going to be compared to a lot of things before its run its through: a female road movie, a women's buddy/adventure film, a female Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. But it's a whole lot more original and exciting than any of these tags convey. More than anything I've seen in a long time, Thelma & Louise, makes me think of the old New World pictures with their populist blend of politics, humor and off-the-cuff pacing. And the fact that Sarandon and Davis are nothing short of perfect in their characterizations also contribute to your wanting to take this movie home and put it under your pillow at night. This is a movie to love. And it fazes me not a bit that I think that it could stand a few minutes trimmed from its running time, that Keitel's sympathetic Arkansas detective is somewhat lacking in motivation and that virtually all the other men in the movie are idiots and jerks. This is a movie to love, that touches you in places you never suspected, that shows you that the road less traveled is the road to your dreams.