Ben Oliver

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Thelma & Louise

Hey Louise, better slow down. I’d just die if we get caught over a speeding ticket.
02 June 2019

Two friends head off on the road to go on holiday, but wind up as fugitives when one of them kills an attacker. This one has regrettably sat on my unseen list for far too long, today it was finally time to rectify that.

Hollywood shies away from showing complicated women on screen, even today. Everything is always about being ‘strong’, which is barely less shallow than the stereotypes they are trying to avoid. Not so here.

It’s interesting that only Thelma is the only one motivated to leave her life behind, yet Louise is the one to suggest leaving. Thelma quickly realises this is her chance to get away, but Louise is very much in love with a man back home, who loves her back. And yet as the film progresses she’s not afraid to flee when the time comes. Nothing is black and white.

Another grey area is that Louise pulled the trigger in a moment of weakness on her part, rather than in an act of defence. Perhaps she has the moral high-ground, but what she did was illegal without a doubt. A weaker screenplay would have had her shoot the rapist while caught in the act but Scott sticks to his guns (so to speak) and sets a more ambiguous, complex tone.

It’s hard not to draw comparisons to Bonnie and Clyde, which I just watched. The draw of the American open road coupled with some rich character dynamics has just too big a pull to resist, it seems.

An unlikely film to come from Ridley Scott, but one of his better works.

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