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Thelma & Louise

I don’t begrudge Thelma & Louise its iconic feminism – and it’s sad that a major motion picture asserting that women deserve to be treated like human beings is still revolutionary more than twenty years later – but the on-the-nose catharsis that defines the film also holds it back. As a pair of friends whose weekend vacation goes awry when one of them guns down a would-be rapist, Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon are an endearing screen duo, both rendering charmingly flawed characters that won them deservedly wide acclaim. Watching them blow off steam in escalating outlaw fashion is fun, to a point, and the gorgeous desert and mountain vistas that backdrop their tumultuous journey will make anyone want to hit the road in the American southwest. After awhile, though, I started to feel like Harvey Keitel’s Detective Slocumb, who spends much of the film sitting by the phone in Thelma’s home, wearily waiting to find out where this is all going. When the famous conclusion arrives, whether you find it empowering or depressing, its staging is remarkably hokey, which robs it of most of its gravitas. That fumble underlines Thelma & Louise’s fundamental problem: the film is basically just a revenge fantasy, and its characters deserve better than that.