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Women and Film

In fact she is shooting at the strictures that life has posed for her and Thelma, and the rest of the film shows them breaking out of them.
Thelma and Louise starts with two shots that portrays women in a very ordinary, subservient roles. Thus "LOUISE is a waitress in a coffee shop . . . she is in her early thirties, but too old to be doing this", while "THELMA is a housewife . . . slamming coffee cups from the breakfast table into the kitchen sink, which is full of dirty breakfast dishes and some stuff left from last night's dinner. . . "1 They are both, at this stage at least, apparent caricatures of the controlled and limited lives that women are forced to lead.
Most telling here is the fact that Thelma must ask her husband if she can go, rather than merely informing him that she is going on a trip with a friend. Louise's reaction is also very revealing as she, while the apparently more independent of the two, at least legitimizes the idea that her friend should have to gain permission from her husband. She immediately expands it to the "husband or father" comment, but her initial (and thus perhaps instinctive) reaction is to annoyed because they are just about to leave and Thelma hasn't gained permission.
The first
The first sign of rebellion in these early minutes of the film comes with the screeenwriter's note that Thelma "decides not to tell him" (her husband) that she is going on the trip. Her husband, along with nearly all the men portrayed in the film is vain and arrogant, without having the goods to back up either tendency. Men are shown in the same two-dimensional light that women are normally portrayed as in films. Thus all the men are vain, violent and/or stupid in the same way that women are often seen as money-grabbing, mothers or whores in most films. Thelma and Louise must break away from these two-dimensional caricatures in order to find themselves.
The hint that violence may be at least a possibility occurs when Thelma surprisingly puts a gun into her bag along with a box of ammunition, with the rather cryptic comment "psycho killers". Whether she is referring to potentially violent men or whether this is perhaps a foreshadowing of the crime spree that she and her friend are just about to stumble into is unclear. The lack of clarity as to why what is about to occur does actually happen has perhaps contributed to the varied critical opinion of this movie. Thus while Nick Schager, in Slant, argues that the film's "feminist call to arms winds up sounding woefully simple-minded"3, Matt Brunson disagrees, saying "this beautifully realized picture remains a trenchant, almost mystical slice of Americana"4
Most critics seem to have fallen somewhere between the two, suggesting that the apparent glorification of casual violence that the film portrays is in fact a reflection of a certain segment of American society. As Wesley Lovell writes, Thelma and Louise is "a ...Show more


Hollywood movies have often portrayed the lone outlaw who is pitted, more or less heroically, against society. The person (or persons, as in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) are violent, uncompromising but often funny and with a softer side. They have, until the movie Thelma and Louise, been almost universally male in gender…
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