The best aspect of Thelma and Louise is seeing the switch in characters as their tragic road trip develops. Geena Davis’ Thelma starts out as the bored, naive housewife who’s actions manage to cause more and more problems for the pair, while Susan Sarandon’s Louise is the broken waitress who is just trying to escape it all and it seems that the events of the trip could give her that opportunity.
From where they start to where they finish as characters is what keeps the moving interesting and the pace quick. Geena Davis’ Thelma slowly starts to gain in confidence and gets wiser and more capable, especially with a gun, and goes from being the victim to an almost (anti)hero when the woman get caught by a patrolling police officer.
Sarandon’s Louise is the individual in control, ensuring that her and Thelma are protected and that they reach their intended destination, despite the shortcomings and foul-ups of her partner in crime. Again, her transformation comes when she starts to trust her friend a lot more or realise how corrupted she has become by the whole ordeal.
And what an ordeal. The story of the two is just bad luck followed by more bad luck and although there are times when you wonder why the women have made the decisions they have, the film flows in such a way that it doesn’t seem to matter. Again, this is down to the charm and spirit of the two central characters and even though their actions are often deplorable, you want them to succeed and do well, or at least survive and be free.
This is despite the male characters who seem to be the fault and obstacle for everything Thelma and Louise try to do. Alongside the famous females is a who’s who of Hollywood leading men, from understanding cop Harvey Keitel to shady boyfriend Michael Madsen. This is also an early role for a very notable Brad Pitt, who lights up the screen with charisma from the moment he arrives to the movie.
It is wholly scathing of the male half of the human race. It acts as a huge criticism of men and how they treat and hold women back, from the awful treatment of Geena Davis by her husband (a comically great Christopher McDonald) through to the ulterior motives of Brad Pitt’s drifter. It is a female-empowerment movie and any men watching might come away feeling slightly ashamed or guilty, even if they haven’t really done anything wrong.
It is a small point within the wider story though and that is one of friendship, over-coming odds and the need to start again. Thelma and Louise are the ultimate double-act and the now famous ending almost cements their status as the perfect friends in cinema.
Overall, Thelma and Louise is a movie about how one road trip can transform a person and Sarandon and Davis manage to demonstrate this well over the two-hour running time. It has a great, classic moments but you may squirm a little as a man because it seems the men are guilty of all the problems the two central characters face.
Rating – 3.5
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