Partners in Crime

From this week's "Now and Then" at TOH:

"Thelma & Louise is risky, hard-nosed, and freewheeling, passing through desert landscapes and low-slung towns on the way to freedom. Brilliantly, Sarandon plays Louise high-strung and nervous, dragging on every cigarette as though it’ll be her last; Davis elevates Thelma above a funny femme fatale with the merest inflection. 'Somethin’s crossed over in me,' she tells Louise, her voice flickering between exhilaration for her new life and regret for wasting her old one. 'I can’t go back. I couldn’t live.'

"The world we do live in falls short — unfortunately, it’s still one where an attractive woman who has one too many drinks and dances cheek to cheek 'had it coming to her.' Our heroines rightly give ’em hell anyway: a sleazy truck driver learns his lesson, Brad Pitt obliges us with some male objectification by baring his backside, and the police see that happiness is more than a little tract house on the prairie. I’ve always felt ambivalent about Thelma & Louise, uncertain whether it’s unquestionably happy or unbearably sad. I’ve never had the same ambivalence about Thelma and Louise themselves, because in the end their facility with a gun is less important than seeing their hands clasped together in a kind of communion, grabbing control of their destiny. Sink or swim, they’re in this thing together."

"Whereas Thelma & Louise soars and scats its way west, Rizzoli & Isles sounds like it’s still missing the high notes, especially as it gets up to speed. One reason the rollicking adoption-scam yarn of the second episode came as a nice surprise may have been that the painful exposition of the premiere had already to put me to sleep. The long-term problem, though, is how forcefully 'quirky' the series wants its characters to be.

"As Det. Jane Rizzoli, the damaged tomboy who took a bullet to save three colleagues in the Season One finale, Angie Harmon handles this with aplomb. Jane is plucked clean from a bad facsimile of the Cagney & Lacey playbook, but Harmon is impressively funny, especially in the exchanges with her overbearing mother (the decisively witty Lorraine Bracco). They both know how to hit the laugh lines with just the right off-centeredness, like drummers keeping a blues beat. Even in the more weighty moments, when the show tends to go downhill fast, Harmon holds her own — something about her scratchy voice, a full octave below sunny, makes the woodenness of the writing seem like a tough-gal defense mechanism."

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