Thelma & Louise is a thumpingly adventurous road pic about two regular gals who shoot down a would-be rapist and wind up on the lam in their 1966 T-bird. Even those who don’t rally to pic’s fed-up feminist outcry will take to its comedy, momentum and dazzling visuals.
Arkansas housewife Thelma (Geena Davis) and waitress Louise (Susan Sarandon) set out for a weekend fishing trip away from the drudgery of their lives and the indifference of their men; they stop at a roadside honkytonk to blow off steam, and things turn ugly. A guy tries to rape Thelma; Louise can’t take it so she plugs the creep with a .38. Then they hit the highway, dazed and in trouble.
Sarandon is the big sister, more feminine, more focused, smoldering with a quiet determination. Davis is more loosely wrapped; she goes with the flow, follows her whims into trouble. The journey into recklessness is exhilarating, which gives the film its buoyant pull. In an indelible final image, it maintains the sense of reckless exhilaration to the end.
Despite some delectably funny scenes between the sexes, Ridley Scott’s pic isn’t about women vs men. It’s about freedom, like any good road picture. In that sense, and in many others, it’s a classic.
California and southern Utah locales stand in for Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas.
1991: Best Original Screenplay
Nominations: Best Director, Actress (Geena Davis, Susan Sarandon), Cinematography, Editing