September 11, 1991 -- "Thelma and Louise" is the best movie of the summer, so far, despite the multi-million dollar competition and big hype of films like ``Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves'' and ``Rocketeer.''
This is a gem of a film likely to be lost among the glitter of bigger and more flaunted films. It takes what should be a tired and worn out movie idea, the road flick, and turns it into something different.
Ridley Scott, who is no stranger to films with strong, almost macho, leading ladies (Sigorney Weaver in Alien), gets a couple of top-notch strong performances from Susan Sarandon (Louise) and Geena Davis (Thelma).
Sarandon, a waitress, and Davis, a repressed housewife, both leave on a short vacation and stop off at a nightclub along the way where a man attempts to rape Davis. Sarandon, in a fit of rage against the vulgar man, remembering her own rape, murders the man in cold blood.
She decides to run for it. As the two set off for Mexico from Oklahoma City. At first, Davis is a reluctant passenger, but gradually learns to like being on the run and even conducts an armed robbery and locks a policeman in a patrol car trunk. She finds the danger and excitement exhilarating. By the end of the film the two women feel as if they have never been so intensely alive.
The pursuit of the two women turns into a kind of sexist power play, a reaction to the extreme assertiveness of the two women.
The story is mythic. As such it is not very realistic, but it frankly addresses some real issues, such as rape and sexual harassment. In some ways the film paints a very true picture of the American West and of our society. This particular myth is not strictly factual, but it, like all myths, contains many truths. The mythic quality of the film is enhanced by superb quality of the photography by Alexander Witt and Michael Scott. The use of music in the film is excellent, with one exception, Martha Reeves' version of ``Wild Night'' is inferior to the original version by Van Morrison, which I think should have been used in the film instead.
This is Ridley Scott's best effort, better than his previous films, ``Alien,'' ``Blade Runner,'' ``Someone to Watch Over Me,'' or ``Black Rain.''
Harvey Keitel turns a fine supporting performance as a police detective assigned to the case. Keitel is very comfortable in the role and shows a lot of compassion for the suspects.
Christopher McDonald is excellent as Davis' chauvinistic, cheating wimp of a husband and Michael Madsen is good portraying a mumbling Elvis-like boyfriend of Sarandon who tries too late to ask her to marry him.
This is a film not to be missed. It rates an A.
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