Thelma & Louise – Blu-ray Review

A film like Thelma & Louise probably couldn’t get made in 2011, 20 years after its initial successful run. One could say that about many films but Ridley Scott’s feminist epic seems to be at the top of the list. It’s not for its topic, about two women on a road trip that ends in disaster, nor for its rather dark portrayals of men. In an era where Aaron Sorkin’s The Social Network can be remarkably cruel to women and win a screenwriting Oscar, cruelty towards men doesn’t seem all that different really. Even the anti-climatic ending would still work because it’s the best one possible for a film like this. One thing about Hollywood’s changes over the past 20 years stands out in particular.

Plum roles for more than woman in a film nowadays are rare, increasingly so per year it seems.

Thelma (Geena Davis) and Louise (Susan Sarandon) are two friends on what was supposed to be a two day trip to explore. But when a hillbilly tries to rape Thelma, and Louise kills him, the two go on the run from the law as they avoid the law and an increasing set of men trying to do bad things to them. With an open-hearted detective (Harvey Keitel) on their tail and a parolee up to no good (Brad Pitt) in their sights, the two gals have one mission: make it to Mexico.

What stands out about this film, 20 years later, is that Sarandon and Davis are even in this film at all. If this had been made in 2011 one imagines that Megan Fox and Willow Smith would’ve been in the lead roles and it’d be a bit more family-friendly than the hard-edged quasi-ode to girl power (with one of the women reduced to a secondary character) that this film ended up becoming. A lot of that has to do with having two veteran actresses able to play off one another with characters at the opposite ends of the spectrum.

Thelma has innocence to her, the kind that’s come from years of being a housewife, and Louise has the world-weary look in her eyes that only comes with experience; together they have a friendship that works more like a good sibling relationship. It doesn’t hurt that Sarandon was in the middle of her creative peak as an actress, garnering a handful of Oscar nominations (including for this film) from the mid to late 1980s to her win for Dead Man Walking in the mid 1990s, but it’s Davis that helps to carry the film. Sarandon has the easier role to play, as one imagine that Louise is a cousin of Annie from Bull Durham, but Davis isn’t normally known for this kind of innocence. Davis is near perfect in the role and the duo keep what’s an intriguing story from becoming overtly ridiculous.

And that’s the film’s basic problem; it gets overtly ridiculous as the film progresses to the point where it’s comical. The big finale is laughably bad as they ride off into the sunset, so to speak and it takes away from the great acting go on.

Presented in a widescreen format with a Dolby Digital surround, the film has had a slight upgrade in the a/v department from its original DVD release but not by much. This is still a visually arresting film but it doesn’t look much better than the original DVD release.

Thelma & Louise: The Last Journey is an hour long feature looking back at the film and its long struggle to get into production. After originally coming on to produce, Ridley Scott came on board to direct after him being the only person of all the directors they offered the film to that had a grasp of what the film was aiming for. With all the principles involved there’s a measure of candor that comes out every now and again, as there are some EPK moment scattered throughout. Brad Pitt, who pops up sporadically, is the most candid as he discusses that the producers asked him to be more of a sociopath in the role and he had to look it up in the dictionary.

There are Commentary Tracks with Ridley Scott as well as Davis, Sarandon and writer Callie Khouri.

There are Deleted & Extended Scenes, as well as the film’s alternate Extended Ending with Scott’s commentary. The alternate ending is just a fully extended version of the film’s original ending; Scott liked the original because it ended on a high note, as opposed to the down one the extended provides. The Storyboards for the final chase sequences are included.

The film’s Original Theatrical Featurette as well as the original TV Spots and Trailer are included.

Ridley Scott has alternated classics with awful films; Thelma & Louise is neither. It’s a good film with some shockingly good extras in this release.

20th Century Fox presents Thelma & Louise . Directed by Ridley Scott. Starring Geena Davis, Susan Sarandon, Brad Pitt, Michael Madsen, Harvey Keitel. Written by Callie Khouri. Running time: 129 minutes. Rated R. Released on Blu-ray: February 8, 2011.

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