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Film / Thelma & Louise

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"You've always been crazy. This is just the first chance you've ever had to really express yourself."
Louise Sawyer

A 1991 film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon, Thelma & Louise became one of the most iconic films of the decade. Scott, Davis, and Sarandon all received Academy Award nominations, while screenwriter and intended director Callie Khouri grabbed the Oscar for her screenplay.

Thelma Dickinson (Davis), a naïve housewife, and her best friend, the independent waitress Louise Sawyer (Sarandon), pile into Louise's Cool Car for a girls' weekend out. Things go downhill when Thelma is nearly raped by a stranger named Harlan (Timothy Carhart), whom Louise subsequently shoots. They hit the road to Mexico rather than face almost certain prosecution; along the way, they are pursued by a sympathetic FBI agent named Hal Slocumb (Harvey Keitel). As the two experience freedom they never had before, the long arm of the law finally corners them at a canyon similar to the Grand Canyon. In one of the most iconic, and infamous, endings in cinema history, instead of surrendering, the two decide to... well... If you read the lyrics at the top of the page, you'll get it.


This film features examples of:

  • Action Girl: Both of them, although it takes some Character Development (particularly Thelma).
  • All Men Are Perverts: The Movie, though Hal and Jimmy are exceptions.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Harlan, right to the very end. See his Profane Last Words.
      Harlan: Bitch! I shoulda gone ahead and fucked her!
      Louise: What did you say?
      Harlan: I said suck my cock!
    • The trucker who follows and sexually harasses them on the highway. Their response? Blow up his entire truck. They had given him three chances to apologize, and he insulted them every time. The first, without retaliation. The second, they shot his tires. The third... he had it coming.
  • Attempted Rape: An attempted rape in a nightclub parking lot and what happens to the rapist afterwards starts the entire crazy roadtrip.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Rather than risk getting shot by the police, they drive off the cliff edge into the canyon.
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  • Bolivian Army Ending: Though the general consensus on what happened is they both died. There's... pretty much no way of surviving plunging into the Grand Canyon.
  • Cerebus Callback: Thelma and Louise take a polaroid photo of themselves at the start of their trip and stick it to the rear view mirror in the car. The photo flies off the mirror just as the car goes plunging into the Grand Canyon.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Thelma's gun.
  • Chick Flick: Albeit a rather violent one.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Louise.
  • The Ditz: Thelma, at least initially. (In reality, Geena Davis is a member of Mensa.)
  • Downer Ending: The film ends with the title characters driving into the Grand Canyon to escape the police.
  • Driven to Suicide: The main couple. Literally.
  • Everything Is Big in Texas
  • Freeze-Frame Ending / Fade to White: The ending. The film ended on the duo driving their car into the Grand Canyon, freezing mid-flight.
  • From Bad to Worse: Thelma and Louise's road trip keeps getting worse.
  • Handsome Lech: What Harlan the rapist is implied to be.
  • Hero Antagonist: Slocumb.
  • The Hero Dies: Both the eponymous characters themselves at the end.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Thelma and Louise.
  • Hostile Hitchhiker: Downplayed: the otherwise friendly hitchhiker ends up stealing all their money.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Louise has one that kicks off the plot. She has no good reason to kill Harlan when she does. He'd released Thelma, was no longer a threat to them, and both were walking away from him. He just happened to push her Berserk Button with his insults. Doing it that way meant there'd be little chance of claiming self defense (as she later points out), and fleeing the scene just made things worse.
    • Just days after almost being raped by a guy she just met, Thelma insists they give a ride to a guy she just met, then invites him into her motel room. Even after he admits he's an ex-con and armed robber, she still leaves him alone with all their money, which he promptly steals. So to get the money back, Thelma robs a convenience store, bringing more attention on them, and getting them charged with more crimes. To make matters worse, she even told J.D. they were heading to Mexico, which he then tells the police.
  • I Have a Family: What the cop says as they lock him in the trunk of his cruiser.
  • Jerkass: Harlan, Darryl, and the truck driver.
  • Karma Houdini: J.D. Most of the men who cross Thelma and Louise get their comeuppance in some way. J.D. steals all their money and informs the police they're heading to Mexico, but gets away with it.
  • Lovely Angels
  • Mexican Standoff: How the movie ends... until Thelma has another idea.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Brad Pitt shows a lot of his toned bod in the film, which is kind of the point.
  • Nice Guy: Jimmy.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Louise inadvertantly leads the police to them when she chats to Slocumb on the phone too long, allowing them to trace the call (having earlier warned Thelma that the police will probably trace the call when she phones Darryl).
  • No Kill Like Overkill: There's a lot of guns pointed at the duo at the end.
  • Noodle Incident: Whatever happened to Louise in Texas, it must have been bad.
    • Given Louise's knowledge about the forensics of proving rape, and her statement about not wanting to be caught in Texas after shooting an attempted rapist, the implication is that she was raped there.
  • Police are Useless
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Hey, the cop who pulls them over is just doing his job.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Hal, who is also the Only Sane Man. Unfortunately, neither woman knows Hal has the best of intentions for them.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Thelma is Blue, Louise is Red (see Tomboy and Girly Girl below).
  • Road Trip Plot
  • Rule of Cool: Numerous continuity errors throughout the film. The route supposedly taken makes little sense, and who can drive or ride in the back of a convertible wearing a cowboy hat? The shot showing Louise's foot switching from brake to accelerator comes after the car is already moving.
  • Run for the Border: The ladies decide to go to Mexico.
  • Shirtless Scene: The one that made Brad Pitt a legend.
  • Shoot the Fuel Tank: Not just the fuel tank, but the whole damn truck.
  • Slut-Shaming: Louise points out that people would deny Thelma's claim of Attempted Rape due to Thelma flirting, dancing, and drinking with the man.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The alternate ending.
  • Surprise Vehicle: A helicopter arises from the Grand Canyon.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Louise is the Tomboy, Thelma is the Girly Girl (at first, anyway).
  • Too Dumb to Live: Both Harlan and the pervert trucker continue to talk dirty and/or throw insults while having guns pointed at themselves.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Thelma, after she had sex with Brad Pitt.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Darryl, Thelma's husband, sees Louise as being this to Thelma.
  • Villainous Crush: Harlan obviously develops one on Thelma pretty quickly.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Louise pulls over to vomit minutes after she killed Harlan. According to Susan on the DVD Commentary, it was egg whites, which is also used in sex scenes.
  • Wham Line:
    Thelma: Let's keep going.
    Louise: What do you mean?
    (long pause)
    Thelma: ... go!
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Hal is pretty outraged at the end of the small army of police cars complete with assault weapons and sniper rifles, all for two fleeing women.
    Hal: Hey, don't let them shoot those girls! This is too much! You have guns pointed at them!
    Hal: How many times?! How many times are they going to be fucked over?!
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Thelma's one-night-stand with J.D. can be thought of as this: he gives her what is apparently her first ever enjoyable sexual experience with a man, only to steal all of her and Louise's cash the next day when she leaves him alone in her motel room. On the other hand, she then uses the technique he showed her on how he carries out his armed robberies to carry out her own robbery of a liquor store to replenish the money he stole.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Darryl is implied to be cheating on Thelma; Harlan, a noted womanizer, admits that he's married right before he tries to rape Thelma; and the vulgar truck driver can be seen removing his wedding ring just as he's getting out of his truck to what he thinks is a hookup with Thelma and/or Louise.


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