Thelma and Louise

Wednesday, September 11, 1991

Thelma and Louise
Directed by Ridley Scott
Screenplay by Callie Khouri
With Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis
Reviewed by Rose McCann

The fact that a film like Thelma and Louise can excite such controversy and critical comment (including being featured on the cover of US Time magazine) says a lot about how the changing roles of women over the last two decades remain a subject of fascination and fear.

Despite the howls of outrage from predictable quarters, the film is, deservedly this time, a box office hit in the US, and likely to be so here. Most audiences and critics find its pathos, humour and exuberance impossible to resist.

The film does have flaws, such as an over-caricatured boorish husband and the far-fetched presence of a "sympathetic" cop. But the allegations that it is morally objectionable because it "glorifies women as killers" and that these two free spirits are "embittered man-hating thugs" are just laughable.

These are women who like men, or at least have tried to. Like most women, they've obviously invested quite a lot of their lives in trying to make something meaningful and lasting out of their relationships with men.

Frustrated to the nth degree by their respective hopeless partners, they take off for a holiday together in a battered '60s convertible in a refreshingly feminist version of the "road movie" genre, passing along the way through the small towns and the glorious mesa and canyon region of the US south-west.

Their journey is one of further discovery of men's capacity for violence and nastiness towards women, unknown and unprovoked. The screenplay is full of revelations, achingly familiar, about the gulf between men and women that all women experience, on one level or another. "Tell her you care for her and that you miss her — women like that sort of shit", a cop advises Thelma's abandoned husband.

The film is also about the transcendent possibilities of female friendship — the way women, through loyalty and shared intimacy, can be the "best of friends" to each other, give each other strength and have enormous fun to boot. Sisters, enjoy!

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