Oscars Project: Movie #7

(Explanation of The Oscars Project found here. And need I say it? This post contains SPOILERS.)

From 1991:
Thelma & Louise

The story: Best girlfriends Thelma (timid housewife kept on a tight leash by husband) and Louise (tough talking waitress with a secret past life) embark on a road trip that turns into much more after an unexpected incident outside a bar.

What I liked:

* Solid cast. Both Thelma (Geena Davis) and Louise (Susan Sarandon) were nominated for Best Actress. Neither won. Some dumb movie about cannibals wiped the floor with them.

* It's Ridley Scott--everything looks amazing. (Nominated for Best Director--first time for Scott--also lost.) The title characters drive through some really beautiful landscapes.

What I didn't like:

* It was really hard watching them basically give up and start heaping crime upon crime. Thelma more or less went mad--although the question remains, what was the trigger? Nearly getting raped? Realizing her husband hadn't come home and didn't care where she was? Her apparent sexual awakening at the hands (limbs, extremities) of Brad Pitt's con artist cowboy?

* The ending seemed a bit dragged-out. (Surprisingly, Scott wanted a longer final scene, which is included in the DVD bonus features.)

* Winner of Best Screenplay, the only win out of six nominations for the film. I don't quite get it.

Other comments:

I forgot how
outrageous and shocking this film was when it came out. Maybe because I wasn't finished high school at the time. We still make and see references to "Thelma & Louise" sometimes, don't we? On TV shows and on the radio and in movies? It definitely changed the landscape of all things feminine, but was it in a good way?

Peske and West say that the title women "strike back at men's cruel sense of entitlement" and although they do admit that T&L wind up on a path "lead[ing] to a point of no return," they applaud the "bad girl" characters of the 1990s for basically letting their freak flags fly high (p. 40).

I disagree with the observation about this particular movie--Louise refused to believe any of the sympathy and compassion coming from detective Hal Slocumb (Harvey Keitel, in an excellent performance ignored by the Academy) and almost seemed to resent it, react violently against it.

I also disagree with the general idea that this was the new (proper) face of feminism, the way women ought to be and behave. Beat up the men, especially the nasty truck driver who made lewd gestures at you, and score one for women everywhere. It's not ugly because women are supposed to be demure--it's ugly because it's vigilanteism.

But it happened--it really was the mentality that arose in the '90s. Is its impact still felt today? Maybe subtly.

But I don't think we'll see a movie like this again.

Next up: Unforgiven

Chapter list here.


Cullen said…
I saw it way back when it first came out on video. I remember thinking that it was a fairly commonly themed film - the strong character leading the weaker character on a path that ultimately leads to a tragic end. Sarandon was good as the man-hater, I dont' remember enough of Davis' performance to talk about it though.

I don't remember being shocked by the ending. Kind of felt it was rather like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. I like Ridely Scott and all, and I do remember the film looking great, but I just never got what the big deal was with this movie.

As for the next, Unforgiven, so good.
Kate P said…
Cullen, you raise a good point that I wondered about--was this a mutually beneficial friendship, or was Louise a bad influence on ditzy Thelma?
I did figure there would be much rejoicing among the men-folk readers when I typed "Unforgiven"!!!
Cullen said…
It's cliché, but it's always an interesting relationship to explore. The real question is if Sarandon's character drove them or if Davis' neediness did? Sarandon had the drive to accomplish things, but was it driven from her own sense of what to do or did Davis steer her?
Dave E. said…
I loved the acting performances across the board, liked the cinematography a lot, was able to suspend disbelief at a couple points easily enough, but in the end all I thought about the story it told was what a waste. With that ending it always kind of baffled me that some people would consider it inspirational.
Kate P said…
Dave--yeah, why is it that some other scenes are a little tough to believe, but that ending was the only believable way to go? I mean, would audiences have been annoyed if they had gotten caught? Would having turned themselves in invalidated all the girl power? I wonder.

Popular Posts