“Thelma & Louise” (1991) starring Susan Sarandon & Geena Davis

Louise [to Thelma re: her controlling/uncaring husband Darryl]: Well, you get what you settle for.

Louise (Susan Sarandan, 45 y.o. and looking fab) is working in a diner as a waitress and has some problems with her bf Jimmy (Michael Madsen), a musician who is usually on the road. Thelma (Geena Davis, looking youthful at 35 y.o.) is a housewife to Darryl (Christopher McDonald), who takes his wife for granted. He wants her to cook/clean/stay quiet, so that he can watch football. Even though they have been together since HS days, Darryl isn’t ready to have kids. One day, the two girlfriends decide to break out of their boring routines and take a road trip. Their relaxing vacation turns into a dangerous flight from the cops/FBI, after Louise (who may have a past) shoots a man who threatened to rape Thelma (who starts off the story as quite naive). They decide to go to Mexico, but the police are hot on their trail!

Thelma: You’re a real live outlaw, aren’t ya?

J.D.: Well, I may be an outlaw, darlin’, but, uh, you’re the one stealin’ my heart.

Wow, can you believe this movie is 30 yrs old!? Or how controversial it was (esp. the ending) upon first release? I saw it many years ago; I forgot that it was directed by Ridley Scott. He was open to collaboration and allowed the actors to improvise; as a Brit, he wasn’t familiar w/ the accents/culture of the American South. Screenwriter Callie Khouri (whose father was of Lebanese heritage) grew up in Kentucky; she was in her mid-30s when she won the Oscar for Best Screenplay in 1992. Many will recall it as when they first saw Brad Pitt (the hottie hitchhiker who Thelma falls for, J.D.)

Louise: Damn, Jimmy. What’d you do, take some kinda pill that makes you say all the right stuff?

Jimmy: Yeah. I’m chokin’ on it.

I don’t understand why some viewers thought this was a “man-bashing” story! Jimmy is (obviously) deeply in love w/ Louise; he goes out of his way to bring her the money she saved up. Sarandon said that she and Madsen (who looks pretty good, too) were also supposed to have a love scene, which would be intercut w/ the one between Davis and Pitt. However, Sarandon suggested another option to Scott- a serious/heartfelt discussion- and this is what we see in the movie! The lead detective on the case, Hal Slocumb (Harvey Keitel), is a good man trying to do the right thing. While he interviews the people in the women’s lives, he stays calm, humble, and respectful. Hal wants to get the women to surrender and come out alive, instead of being killed by a cop w/ a quick trigger finger.

State Trooper: [sobbing] Please! I have a wife and kids. Please!

Thelma: You do? Well, you’re lucky. You be sweet to ’em, especially your wife. My husband wasn’t sweet to me. Look how I turned out.

This is a road movie, but w/ women as the leads (which is rare even nowadays); Sarandon said she was so happy to work w/ another actress. As the journey goes on, you will notice that Thelma and Louse look more and more natural (w/ their hair and makeup). I watched some interviews w/ both leads; they seem to be friendly and supportive of of each other- very cool.

[1] I loved this movie from the first time I saw it, but it wasn’t until I sat through it the third time that I figured out why. It is clever, exciting, and funny and is shot in the middle of the breathtaking scenery of the American Southwest. However, the thing that makes it special is its illustration of pure friendship.

[2] I feel sad that this movie received claims of being anti-male. The reality is that there are a lot of challenges women face just for being female and this movie shows that. The shock factor that this movie portrays is that Thelma and Louise feel that they must take drastic measures to empower and free themselves from the challenges they face as women. It was an incredible movie and definitely a must-see.

[3] Both leads – Geena Davis as Thelma and Susan Sarandon as Louise – give fine performances. Thelma and Louise become fully realized human beings who share a powerful and authentic friendship. Their transformation into two outlaws is also made entirely believable by the actresses.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

4 thoughts on ““Thelma & Louise” (1991) starring Susan Sarandon & Geena Davis

  1. I saw this with a friend around the time it came out (I think, on VHS?) and I remember being deeply moved. But i do also remember the backlash, which is probably why it didn’t get a Best Picture nom (and did anyone think “Silence of the Lambs” was an anti-woman movie? They should have). It is more memorable than every film nominated that year, although I did enjoy “Prince of Tides.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh this reminds me- there were few younger gen women/critics who commented (on podcast) that they ALSO felt “Silence of the Lambs” was problematic! One of my therapist friends said that “The Prince of Tides” is considered NOT so cool by ppl in her profession (main charac getting involved w/ her patient’s bro & all). It’s a good movie though!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t remember if we ever discussed “Silence,” but it horrified me — gave me nightmares.

        I think your therapist friends are right — one way NOT to help your patients is to get involved with them romantically / sexually. (Although it also doesn’t go all that well in the story.) Male wish fulfillment. That said, parts of the novel are incredibly compelling and that stuff translated well in the film. Conroy was one of those novelists who essentially wrote one story over and over (in his case, childhood trauma at the hands of a brutal father), but he did it so effectively that I, at least, didn’t care. He’s reminiscent of John Irving in his focus on the horrible. Irving was more successful, but not (I don’t think, anyway) a better storyteller.

        Liked by 1 person

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