In the span of a few months, prolific filmmaker Ridley Scott had directed and released two films, The Last Duel and House of Gucci. One is touted as an epic historical drama, while the other is considered to be a biographical crime drama. It just goes to show his ability to wield stories of all types. From sci-fi thrillers like Blade Runner to historical dramas like Gladiator, Ridley Scott has done it all. But of all his works that have influenced my love for films, there is one that stands out, and funnily enough, he almost wasn’t going to make it. I am of course talking about the 1991 road trip classic Thelma and Louise. I would even call it the ultimate buddy movie. An obviously confusing visual, given that mainstream cinema’s idea of a buddy movie is strictly that of two male best friends. Thelma and Louise defeats those notions with its wonderful performances, tight direction, and witty dialogues.
Thelma and Louise is about two best friends who decide to go on a weekend road trip to a fishing cabin. But their plans take a turn for the worse when they come across a man named Harlan who attempts to rape Thelma in the parking lot of a diner. Louise saves Thelma from the man by threatening to shoot him with her gun. Despite almost getting killed, the man continues to taunt them both to the point where Louise shoots him to death. The rest of the movie deals with their run from the law and how their relationship blossoms by helping each other grow by facing their demons.
Both women carry the film extraordinarily well. The characters at the end of the film are starkly different from who they were at the beginning of the film. Thelma starts off as a ditzy housewife with a controlling husband and Louise is a no-nonsense waiter at a local diner. At the end of the movie, Thelma turns into a confident woman with a newfound appreciation for adventure, while Louise eventually pulls down her walls to talk about her traumatic past.
Thelma and Louise can be considered as an all-female retelling of Bonnie and Clyde, the infamous road-tripping couple who commit all types of crimes. In order to be on the run, both of them have no choice but to rob stores and even lock a police officer in the trunk of his police car. There’s even a cool scene where they give it back to an eve-teasing truck driver.
If those reasons weren’t good enough to watch the movie, the fact that it was one of Brad Pitt’s first films might change your mind. Pitt plays the role of JD, a smooth-talking conman who finds himself in the midst of the women’s adventures while looking to hitchhike. He ends up seducing Thelma at her hotel room and stealing all of Louise’s hard-earned money. This dilemma pushes them to steal money from a diner.
There’s a line in the movie that really spoke to me. After shooting the man in the diner parking lot, Thelma suggests going to the police to confess that she was getting raped and they had no option but to shoot back in defence. Louise refuses by saying that everyone in the diner saw Thelma dancing with Harlan, and there was no one would believe that Thelma didn’t ask for it. “We just don’t live in that world” Louise says. It is a line that remains just as relevant in today’s times.
Back when it was realised, critics panned the film for its so-called “man-hating” ideals. But later on, it was accepted as a landmark feminist film. Both stars received best actress nominations at the Oscars, as they deservedly did. It’s still pretty rare to come across a film that has garnered best actor or best actress nominations in the same category for two of its leads. I’m glad Ridley Scott went on to direct this masterpiece and show the world what a buddy movie should look like.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.