Thelma & Louise

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Two friends, Thelma Dickinson (Geena Davis) and Louise Sawyer (Susan Sarandon) set out for a two-day vacation to take a break from their dreary lives. Thelma is married to a controlling man, Darryl (Christopher McDonald), while Louise works as a waitress in a diner. They head out in Louise’s 1966 Ford Thunderbird convertible, but their vacation in the mountains quickly turns into a nightmare before they reach their destination.

They stop for a drink at a roadhouse, where Thelma meets and dances with Harlan Puckett (Timothy Carhart). After she gets drunk, Harlan attempts to rape her in the parking lot. Louise finds them and threatens to shoot Harlan with a gun that Thelma brought with her. Harlan stops, but as the women walk away, he yells profanity and insults them. Louise loses her temper and fires, killing him. Thelma wants to go to the police, but Louise says that because Thelma was drunk and had been dancing with Harlan, no one will believe her claim of attempted rape. Afraid that she will be prosecuted, Louise decides to go on the run and Thelma accompanies her.

Louise is determined to travel from Oklahoma to Mexico, but refuses to go through Texas. It is revealed that something happened to her in Texas years earlier, but she refuses to say exactly what. Heading west, they come across an attractive young man named J.D. (Brad Pitt), and Thelma convinces Louise to let him hitch a ride with them. Louise contacts her boyfriend Jimmy Lennox (Michael Madsen) and asks him to wire transfer her life savings to her. When she goes to pick up the money, she finds that Jimmy has come to see her. Thelma invites J.D. into her room and learns he is a thief who has broken parole. They sleep together, and J.D. describes how he conducted his hold-ups. At the same time, Jimmy asks Louise to marry him, but she declines.

In the morning, Thelma tells Louise about her night with J.D. When they return to the motel room, they discover J.D. has taken Louise’s life savings and fled. Louise is distraught and frozen with indecision, so a guilty Thelma takes charge and robs a convenience store using the tactics she learned from listening to J.D. Meanwhile, the FBI are getting closer to catching the fugitives, after questioning J.D. and Jimmy, and tapping the phone line at Darryl’s house. Detective Hal Slocumb (Harvey Keitel) discovers the traumatic event that Louise experienced years earlier in Texas. During a couple of brief phone conversations with her, he expresses sympathy for her predicament and pledges to protect her, but he is unsuccessful in his attempts to persuade her to surrender.

When they are pulled over by a state trooper (Jason Beghe), Thelma holds him at gunpoint and locks him in the trunk of his car, while Louise takes his gun and ammunition. They then encounter a truck driver (Marco St. John) who repeatedly makes obscene gestures at them. They pull over to demand an apology, but when he refuses, they fire at the fuel-tanker he is driving, causing it to explode. Leaving the man furious, they drive off.

Thelma and Louise are finally cornered by the authorities only 100 yards from the edge of the Grand Canyon. Hal arrives on the scene, but he is refused the chance to make one last attempt to talk the women into surrendering themselves. Rather than be captured and spend the rest of their lives in jail, Thelma proposes that they “keep going” (over the cliff). Louise asks Thelma if she is certain. Thelma says yes, they kiss, and Louise steps on the accelerator. As soon as the car starts forward, Hal sprints after it in an attempt to save them, but the car zooms over the cliff.


The other day I was having a discussion about the direction films seem to be taking these days One of the topics that was brought up involved more and more use of strong female protagonists and less and less of the “damsel in distress”. Say what you will about me, but I prefer the “damsel in distress”. Thelma & Louise is unique in that it utilizes both female tropes.

What is this about?

An Arkansas waitress and her naïve housewife friend hit the road for a simple weekend of freedom — and end up on a wild flight from the law.

What did I like?

Fire and Ice. Thelma is the free spirit who has been held down too long by her over controlling husband. Louise is the no-nonsense waitress who it can be assumed has had some rough experiences in her past. The contrast between these two ladies is one of the major contributing factors to why this film is so popular. The chemistry between these two women, though, is remarkable. I don’t want to sound like it is as if they would have no chemistry, but rather the pairing of Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis was a nice bet that paid off.

Introducing… Brad Pitt has been called one of the finest actors of our generation. I can’t really argue that, to be truthful. He has shown that he does have some acting chops to go with that pretty boy look of his. I’m always fascinated to see the early works of actors, singers, etc., especially their debuts. For instance, I still crack up laughing when I see the WWF debut of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, then known as Rocky Maivia (look it up on Youtube and see if you don’t laugh, as well). This isn’t the first thing Pitt had done, but it is his feature film debut.

Exit. In the film’s climactic final scene, the girls are faced with the choice of turning themselves in or getting shot up like Bonnie & Clyde (more on that shortly). If you know anything about this flick, then you are more than aware that they hightail it for the Grand Canyon, rather than head to jail. It is an exit befitting the greatest of fugitives. Bonnie & Clyde were shot up holding hands. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, contrary to the movie’s portrayal, went out with each other…one even assisting the other in death. Thelma & Louise go out together as well (though there are theories as to whether or not they actually die).

What didn’t I like?

Shoot ’em up. In yet another case of the cops and FBI going overboard, they send out what is just short of a military strike force to capture these two women, who haven’t really done anything other than rob one convenience store and kill one asshole rapist. With the force they sent after them, you’d think they’d have kidnapped the First Lady! On top of that, when they get to the climactic scene, these cops and other personnel are aimed and ready to shoot. Again, these women have committed a couple of crimes, but they aren’t nearly dangerous enough to have adopted a “shoot first, ask questions later” attitude. WTF?!?

Rape. Rape is a tough subject to tackle, but there is a scene where Geena Davis’ character is about to get raped by this guy at the bar. I won’t lie, I’ve had all kinds of impure thought of Geena Davis, but I would never act on them….unless she wanted me to HA! Seriously, though, this rape scene was a bit uncomfortable to watch, and it wasn’t even as bad as some others that I’ve seen in film and TV. Plus, it was a major plot device, so there was no way to omit it, really. Personally, though, I could have done without this scene.

Smooth it out. Anyone that has been on the back roads in this country knows that they are far from smooth sailing, let alone as straight as this film makes them, unless that is how they are over there in New Mexico, which I doubt. Perhaps this is just me being a little too over critical, but there should have been more bumps in the road as they were traveling. At the same time, there are very many 1966 Thunderbirds with Arkansas license plates driving about, either. How is it no police officer didn’t notice them?!?

Thelma & Louise is a film that I’ve been putting off watching for years and years now. With a couple of hours carved out of my schedule this week, I managed to have the time to check it out and I must say that it was worth the wait. The few complaints I have with this film are very minor. Here we are in 2014 and I think this film is still relevant, if not moreso. Do I recommend it? Yes, very much so! This entertaining film will definitely go down as one of the finest pieces of cinema you’ll watch in your lifetime, or at least this year!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars


One Response to “Thelma & Louise”

  1. […] film came out. I believe Pitt hadn’t even received all the accolades from his two scenes in Thelma & Louise yet. Why do I bring this up? Well, both men have gone on to successful careers, but if you were to […]

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