Saturday, February 4, 2017

#590: Thelma & Louise

Directed by: RIDLEY SCOTT
1991, TSPDT Rank #623

When I think of Ridley Scott, I usually associate him with sci-fi thrillers (Alien) and big action films (Gladiator). In Thelma & Louise, however, Scott showcased his ability to make an iconic road movie infused with reckless abandon and desperate passion. The film follows the travels of the two titular friends, on the run after a rebellious weekend in the wilderness takes an unexpected detour into murder - turning the two women into outlaws. The murder victim is a man who seduces Thelma in a bar and attempts to rape her in the parking lot, before being stopped by Louise - who shoots him in cold blood after he fails to show the faintest sign of remorse for his actions. In murdering this man, who would likely be considered innocent under the circumstances by the law, Louise (a woman with an implied rape history herself) effectively avenges herself, Thelma, and all other rape victims who have been blamed for a crime which was perpetrated on them while the real perpetrators were allowed to go free. This aspect alone would explain the film's status as a feminist classic, although the characters of Thelma and Louise help to cement this reputation. Both are extremely well-drawn and complex characters (unusual for female characters in a mainstream Hollywood film, especially of the time period) who act on their own volition and are thoroughly unapologetic about their actions - staging them as a revolt against the society that has oppressed them since birth. These potent themes, along with the wildly shifting power dynamic between the two women as the film progresses, make the film a thrilling and multi-layered experience. While there might be better road movies out there, it is still hard to think of another mainstream Hollywood film of this era that explored such groundbreaking themes while still retaining an undeniable atmosphere of exhilaration.

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