Thelma: One Last Ride

I’ve fallen in love with an older woman. And her name is Thelma.

At the age of 93, Thelma (June Squibb) takes joy in simple things like needlepoint and spending time with her grandson. However, after she is taken advantage of by a phone scammer, June is left heartbroken and ashamed. Furious that she would fall victim to their scheme, she decides that the only option is to take matters into her own hands. Teaming up with a friend (Richard Roundtree), Thelma sets out on a treacherous mission across the city to take back the money that she lost… and her sense of pride.

With enthusiastic joy, there simply isn’t another film in the theatres right now that will charm audiences as much as Thelma. Directed by Josh Margolin, Thelma is a crowd-pleasing romp that has the energy of a heist film and the honesty of an indie drama. Featuring a soundtrack reminiscent of Soderberg’s Ocean’s Trilogy, there’s a genuine sense of bounce to the film that infuses it with a sense of play. But, unlike other ‘one last ride’ films like Going in Style and Last Vegas, Thelma never mocks its lead character or the process of ageing. Instead, it recognizes the challenges of getting older while still making us laugh. Moments such as a high-speed chase through the hallways of a local nursing home and stepping across a perilous pathway filled with trinkets feel dangerous, even in their most ridiculous moments. 

Without question, one can’t help but fall in love with the indomitable Squibb. In her first (!) lead role, the 93-year-old Squibb is absolutely fearless as Thelma. Despite the fact that much of her family believe her to be incapable of taking care of herself, Thelma becomes a force to be reckoned with. With determination in her soul, Squibb pushes her character to her limits, willing to face-off against criminals, judgment from her family and, yes, even the computer. 

Even so, despite its over-the-top comedy, Thelma’s journey remains surprisingly grounded in reality. For Thelma, the greatest battle she faces is against aging and, more specifically, the expectations of others as she ages. Her daughter and son-in-law believe that she’s past her prime. Although he believes in her, her grandson’s kind eyes mask his concerns for her abilities. Even her friends encourage her to ‘slow down’ and accept her fate.

But, for Thelma, that’s just not acceptable.

After having been taken advantage of by scammers over the phone, Thelma still believes that she’s got the strength necessary to stand up for herself. (After all, if Tom Cruise can do it…) While she battles through the physical limitations she has because of her age, Thelma still believes that there is life to be lived. She still wants to take risks and marvel at the world. She still wants to stand up for herself when others try to keep her down. There’s a certain beauty in the sense of childlike wonder that she holds to, even though she’s advanced in years.

Genuinely entertaining from start to finish, one can’t help but cheer (and fear) for Thelma as she steps out into the unknown. Backed by wonderful work from Squibb, Thelma is adorable and charismatic (but you wouldn’t want to mess with her either). Above all else, Thelma wants us to celebrate the moments that we still have, even if others don’t believe in us.

Thelma is available in theatres on Friday, May 3rd, 2024. 

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