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Ridley Scott
Geena Davis, Susan Sarandon, Harvey Keitel
Callie Khouri
A vacation goes awry and sends two best friends on the run from the law.
Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Dolby Vision
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 130 min.
Price: $49.95
Release Date: 5/30/2023

• Audio Commentary with Director Ridley Scott
• Audio Commentary with Actors Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon and Writer Callie Khouri
• 2022 Interview with Director Ridley Scott
• 2023 Interview with Writer Callie Khouri
Boy and Bicycle Short Film
• “Ploughman” TV Ad
• Deleted and Extended Scenes
• “The Last Journey” Documentary
• Original Theatrical Featurette
• “Storyboarding the Ending” Featurette
• Storyboards
• Trailers and TV Spots
• Music Video
• Booklet
• Blu-ray Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X800 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Thelma & Louise: Criterion Collection [4K UHD] (1991)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 18, 2023)

Welcome to Thelma & Louise, perhaps 1991’s most controversial flick, as the movie inspired incessant debate after it hit screens in the spring of that year. It also earned positive box office receipts that made it a decent hit even though it didn’t fall into line with the standard genre mentality.

That’s because Thelma essentially offers a guy’s movie in “chick flick” clothing. Had it featured two male protagonists, the movie likely wouldn’t have caused any stir whatsoever.

Instead, with two women at the fore, Thelma became a political and social statement, whether anyone behind it intended it that way.

Y’know, it’s been a long time since 1991, and I don’t recall how the filmmakers explained Thelma at the time. I’m sure I’ll get a crash course when I examine this disc’s supplements, but I consciously decided to write my movie-related comments before I checked out those materials because I didn’t want them to affect my thoughts. How well my opinions will correspond with their intentions remains to be seen.

Set in Arkansas, Louise (Susan Sarandon) works as a waitress in a diner, and she maintains an erratic relationship with boyfriend Jimmy (Michael Madsen), a lounge musician who spends much of his time on the road. Thelma (Geena Davis) lives with her controlling husband Darryl (Christopher McDonald), a carpet salesman who spends suspiciously long hours at work.

Thelma and Louise plan a girls weekend out at the borrowed cabin of a friend, but this goes awry when Thelma suffers an attempted rape at a bar. This confrontation leads Louise to shoot the perpetrator, an action that sends the pair on the lam and chased by a law enforcement crew led by Arkansas State Trooper Hal Slocumb (Harvey Keitel).

The police pursuit leads to the movie’s darker elements, but Thelma and Louise generally keep things pretty light. Although they’re on the run from the law, they enjoy the time of their life.

They embrace their status as outlaws, albeit in a generally polite way. This causes them to loosen up and have fun for the first time in many years.

Therein lies a lot of the controversy caused by Thelma & Louise. The movie’s message engendered an immense amount of debate, and I can understand why.

One could see the story as a call to arms for women to fight back against their male oppressors. The “standard line” views the film’s men as totally flawed and unsympathetic, while the women come across as virtuous.

However, the standard line gets things wrong. For one, the men appear much less one-dimensional than I recalled.

Actually, that’s not completely true, as a number of them really do seem cartoony. From start to finish, Darryl never resembles a real person, and a lewd trucker the women encounter also seems stereotypically buffoonish. Of course, Harlan (Timothy Carhart) – the attempted rapist - comes across as evil personified.

Other than Darryl, however, the movie’s most prominent men actually display greater nuance than one expects. Clearly Hal provides the most sympathetic male, as he actively attempts to save Thelma and Louise.

In a weird way, this could make some see him as a negative character, since he tries to get the women to behave on his terms, whereas they want to do things their own way. While some might view his methods as misguided, few can see Hal as anything other than a well-intentioned character, however.

Jimmy provides another fairly complex role. On one hand, we know he’s not without flaws, since he and Louise clearly have a rocky relationship.

He also shows a violent temper during one scene. However, he attempts to help Louise and he seems generally interested in her welfare, unlike the cold and self-absorbed Darryl.

And then there’s JD (Brad Pitt), a roguish hitchhiker the women meet. The physical embodiment of Thelma’s freedom, he gives her sexual pleasure for the first time in her life and also acts like a rebel role model.

Purely hedonistic, JD shows some concern for the fate of the women, but he mainly exists to look out for his own good. One can’t consider him as a positive role model, but he clearly doesn’t create a negative force, even though his actions indirectly lead to further legal concerns for Thelma and Louise.

While at least half of the prominent males in Thelma provide personalities more multifaceted than we’re normally led to believe, the women remain the focus of the piece, and they offer the most complex characters. Actually, they sometimes seem quite simple, but from that superficiality stems their depth.

Or maybe I’m just reacting like everyone else and reading too much into the roles. If you make Thelma and Louise men instead of women but change almost nothing else about it, we likely wouldn’t have much of a discussion.

At its heart, Thelma really offers nothing more than a buddy flick with bandit tendencies. Admittedly, the story takes a path that accentuates the gender of its leads.

The attempted rape remains at the core of the tale and motivates a lot of the actions. That episode also creates many of the flick’s most politically charged emotions, as the women reflect the poor treatment of rape victims when they deal with the law.

But the movie doesn’t frequently deal with these issues. Instead, it mostly focuses on the joy experienced by the women as they lead their newfound lawless existence.

Does it glorify this path? To some degree, sure, but it’s not the first movie to do so.

However, few – if any – of its predecessors took that route with solely female protagonists. Bonnie and Clyde included some of those elements, but obviously that relationship heavily featured a man, and its violent ending made it tough for us to see much glorification.

Of course, Thelma provides its own frightfully controversial conclusion. As I don’t like to give spoilers, I won’t elaborate on it, but I expect most folks will know what occurs.

Thelma finishes with either a beautiful act of sisterhood and self-determination or a desperate and pathetic waste. It’s up to the individual viewer to figure out which path seems preferred, but there doesn’t appear to be much middle ground.

Which makes sense, as few folks line up in between the poles created by Thelma. Except for me, perhaps, as I don’t really maintain any extreme feelings toward the movie.

I feel somewhat surprised that the film seems less heavy-handed than I recalled. Sure, some crude moments occur, and the misogyny tends to intensify as the piece progresses. However, as I noted when I discussed the male characters, the portrayals seem much less black and white than I remembered, and Thelma and Louise come across as substantially less heroic as well.

Ultimately I think that Thelma & Louise provides an intriguing and entertaining piece of work, though perhaps not one that deserves so much attention. Without all of the controversy, I doubt I’d have devoted so many words to my discussion of it.

At its heart, it seems like little more than a simple outlaw flick that becomes unusual simply due to the gender of its protagonists. For all of the sociological and political debate over the film, that core remains.

The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B / Bonus A-

Thelma & Louise appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. This was a consistently positive Dolby Vision presentation.

Sharpness remained solid throughout the film, as the movie maintained nicely delineated and accurate imagery. Nary a sliver of softness materialized here, as we got a tight presentation.

No issues with jaggies or moiré effects appeared, and I noticed no edge haloes. Grain seemed light but natural, and I detected no print flaws.

The film opted for a palette that leaned toward amber and teal, choices that I suspect don’t reflect the 1991 theatrical release. However, alterations stemmed from the director’s preferences.

At least the disc replicated the colors well. The hues looked full and rich within stylistic choices, and HDR gave the tones added emphasis and impact.

Black levels came across as deep and rich, while shadow detail appeared accurately thick, so low-light shots demonstrated nice clarity. HDR brought extra range and oomph to whites and contrast. This wound up as a terrific image.

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Thelma & Louise appeared fine when I took into account the movie’s era. The soundfield maintained an emphasis on the forward channels most of the time.

Within that spectrum, elements seemed fairly well placed, and surround usage was pretty good. Usually the mix went with environmental material, but it boasted more active moments, most of which involved the movie’s action scenes. The nightclub sequence was also vivid, and the track offered a positive sense of place.

Audio quality seemed fine. Speech was reasonably natural and concise, and music showed fair reproduction.

At times the score and tunes could be a little dense, but they usually demonstrated pretty nice vivacity. Effects also acted their age on occasion, but I thought those elements were good most of the time, and some moderately powerful bass emerged. Nothing here dazzled, but it ended up as an above-average track for its era.

How did the 4K UHD compare to the Criterion Blu-ray? Audio seemed identical.

As for the Dolby Vision 4K, it came with the usual format-related improvements, so delineation, colors and blacks worked better. Because the Criterion Blu-ray looked great, I didn’t find tons of room for growth, but the 4K turned into the more appealing version.

This Criterion set mixes old and new materials, and it includes two audio commentaries. We start with one from director Ridley Scott.

Recorded in 1996, Scott provides a running, screen-specific track that usually seems quite interesting. He starts the piece with a quick run-through of his career prior to Thelma and he gets into a number of other issues not related to this film.

After that, Scott tends to focus more strongly on Thelma, and he discusses many notes related to its production. These include working with the actors, cinematographic decisions, scoring concerns, and a mix of other subjects.

As usual with Scott, he goes through the areas concisely and makes them interesting. This track suffers from one moderate concern, however, as it offers a few fairly substantial silent spots.

Without those Scott’s commentary would provide a terrific effort. As it stands, it remains intriguing and informative despite the gaps.

For the second commentary, we hear from actors Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon plus writer Callie Khouri in a program made for the movie’s 10th anniversary. For the most part, this piece presents a running, screen-specific track, and the three women sit together.

However, occasionally we get remarks that clearly emanate from separately recorded interviews. Kudos to the disc’s producers for including those extra bits, for otherwise the commentary really would have lagged.

As it is, the track includes more than a few examples of dead space, so the additional interviews really help make the piece more involving. In any case, this one provides a generally lively and informative program.

Davis dominates the combined portion to a moderate degree, especially since it seems to take a little while for Khouri and Sarandon to warm up to the format. Davis comes out of the box swinging, and the three interact well.

We learn a lot of fun tidbits about their experiences on the set as well as their route to the project. Khouri appears mostly during the separate interviews, and she gives us useful notes about how she came to write the script, various plot considerations, and even cool details like how she chose to set it initially in Arkansas. All in all, this commentary seems entertaining and illuminating.

The package includes two Blu-ray discs, and the commentaries repeat on BD One. It also comes with a few more materials.

New to the Criterion release, Ridley Scott: Beginnings starts with a circa 2022 interview. Film critic Scott Foundas sat with Scott for this 22-minute, 23-second piece.

The filmmaker discusses aspects of his early life and career as well as some elements of Louise. We find an engaging conversation here.

Also under “Beginnings”, we find 1965’s Boy and Bicycle (27:50), an early short film made by Scott. It shows a teen (Tony Scott) who skips school and rides his bike around town while he fantasizes.

Like most early projects of this sort, Boy suffers from pretensions and doesn’t really seem especially interesting on its own. Nonetheless, I like the ability to get a look at what the then-18-year-old Ridley could do as a filmmaker.

“Beginnings” concludes with “Ploughman” (0:33), a 1977 TV commercial Scott shot for Guinness. It offers a nice taste of Scott’s skills as an advertiser for hire.

Next comes a 2023 Interview with Screenwriter Callie Khouri. It spans 20 minutes, two seconds.

Khouri covers the origins and development of her screenplay along with influences, script specifics and related elements. Khouri expands on her notes from the commentary in this informative reel.

With that we head to Blu-ray Dic Two and open with a 2001 documentary called Thelma & Louise: The Last Journey. It splits into three different areas: “Conception & Casting”, “Production & Performance”, and “Reaction & Resonance”.

Taken as a whole, these last a total of 59 minutes, 37 seconds. We hear from Scott, Khouri, Davis, Sarandon, producer Mimi Polk Gitlin, composer Hans Zimmer, and actors Christopher McDonald, Michael Madsen, Stephen Tobolowsky, Jason Beghe and Brad Pitt.

Though a little dry at times, “Journey” covers a lot of territory, and it usually does so well. Inevitably, the program repeats a moderate amount of material heard in the commentaries, but since it includes so many additional participants, we get a good spread of alternate viewpoints.

I feel particularly pleased to see Pitt, though given his long-term support of this kind of feature, I shouldn’t have been surprised. The piece follows the film in logical order from the writing of the script through reactions to the finished movie, and it gives us a clear and concise depiction of the production.

Less useful is the original theatrical featurette. This five-minute, 23-second clip features film snippets, images from the shoot, and interviews with Scott, Sarandon and Davis.

Though some of the production shots seem interesting, this piece otherwise comes across as nothing more than the usual puffy palaver.

Within the Deleted Scenes area we get 10 clips that occupy a total of 14 minutes, two seconds.. Though I don’t know if any of this belonged in the movie, we see a lot of good stuff here. Overall, these clips offer a lot of intriguing material.

We also find seven Extended Scenes that take up a total of 29 minutes, 33 seconds. Most of these offer a bit more exposition and prove engaging, if not crucial.

Of particular interest, these include an “Extended Ending”, one that really does simply show a longer version of the existing conclusion. It makes the finale more definite, and the movie’s actual finish works better.

You can watch the ending with or without commentary from Ridley Scott, who lets us know why they went with the theatrical conclusion. His remarks add value.

After this we get a section with Storyboards for “The Final Chase”. “Ridley Scott: Storyboarding the Ending” (5:50) offers the director’s circa 2022 notes on these processes, and he delivers more useful notes.

We also see the “Final Chase” storyboards on their own in a running presentation that spans four minutes, 37 seconds. It becomes a good presentation of the material.

A few minor extras finish off Disc Two. We get a dull music video for the dull song “Part of You, Part of Me” from Glenn Frey’s dull solo career. The video offers nothing more than the standard montage of movie clips and lip-synch footage, and it seems… well, dull.

We also discover the movie’s theatrical trailer as well as two TV spots and a TV promo spot that came out after the 1992 Oscars.

The package also includes a booklet that presents art, credits and essays from critics Jessica Kiang and Rachel Syme as well as journalist Rebecca Traister. It offers a good complement to the set.

More than three decades down the road, Thelma & Louise lacks some of the spark caused by then-current controversies, but it still offers an interesting and well executed outlaw flick. The gender of its protagonists continues to give it a nice twist, and the movie seems solid across the board. The 4K UHD provides very good picture, pretty solid audio and an informative collection of supplements. Thelma & Louise occasionally seems a little dated, but it generally continues to work well.

To rate this film please visit the Special Edition review of THELMA & LOUISE

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main