In her story of two women “on the lam” after killing a man for assaulting them, screenwriter Callie Khouri creates an action-packed road film that is also a thematically rich metaphor. While it is Louise’s act of shooting Harlan that triggers the plot, Khouri’s belief that women in this world must live under a soul-crippling double standard is also embodied in Thelma’s radical awakening. Entering the story as a sheltered, dependent housewife, she makes her final exit as an empowered, self-directed woman. Thus, it’s Thelma’s incremental progression toward self-empowerment, rather than Louise’s action story of escape, that both determines the film’s structure, and supports its tragic thematic resonance.
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