Two Southern redheads (Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon) go on the run after shooting a rapist in this 1991 road movie. Remember roads?
One of the best films of the ’90s, Thelma & Louise is a breath of fresh air in the buddy movie genre and a ray of sunshine in the rape-revenge one, the tonal balance tuned like a Ford Thunderbird’s suspension. Suspending disbelief for the outlandish story is a breeze thanks to impeccable characterisation by the two leads; you don’t just feel for them, you flat-out love them, their chemistry like old friends, southern drawls, infectious smiles and weariness in their eyes. They complement each other perfectly, with Thelma (Davis) toughening up as Louise (Sarandon) chills out over the course of this modern feminist classic.
The sharp, intelligent screenplay by Callie Khouri (TV’s Nashville) makes its points clearly without verbosity; “We just don’t live in that kind of world,” says Louise, meaning the kind of world where a woman can dance with a man without consenting to sex. The film’s comically dim view of men serves the plot since every masculine misdeed puts us more and more on the sisters’ side, which we’re on from the get-go. And they actually look like they’re on the lam, all dirty faces and double-denim without the usual credibility GAP of perfect hair and makeup in the middle of the desert à la 1994 imitator Bad Girls.
Ridley Scott’s camera savours their faces and the American scenery, the glossy cinematography lending a fantastical sheen to proceedings. A departure for the director, he builds his usual sense of scale but uncharacteristically mixes it with humanity. The only glaring problem is that it’s often pouring with rain in bright sunshine; maybe it’s monsoon season in Arkansas. The world is expanded by Hans Zimmer’s country-flavoured score and songs by The Temptations and Michael McDonald, along with performances from one-man Levi’s ad Brad Pitt, and Messrs White and Blonde (Harvey Keitel and Michael Madsen).
A Hollywood landmark and feminist icon, now is the perfect time to catch up with Thelma & Louise. Many have tried but they’re still way ahead.