Thelma Is A Silly, Colorful Action Rollercoaster

THLEMA: June Squibb and Fred Hechinger look at a computer screen.

A remarkable feature debut from Writer/Director Josh Margolin, Thelma is a sweet, hilarious, action rollercoaster led by a great performance from its main lead.

Thelma Synopsis: After getting scammed $1,000 from a mysterious caller, 93 year old Thelma Post (June Squibb) leaves her quaint little home and goes on a revenge spree across Los Angeles, in order to get her money back. All the while, Thelma’s grandson Danny (Fred Hechinger), and his parents Alan (Clark Gregg) & Gail (Parker Posey) chase after her.

Mission: Impossible-style Influence in Thelma

THELMA: Richard Roundtree and June Squibb on a scooter.
Richard Roundtree and June Squibb in Thelma. Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

With Thelma, writer/director Josh Margolin makes a triumphant directorial feature debut. Margolin and company crafts a unique tale about getting older. Margolin also explores disability and it not only affects the family of the disabled. But, how disablity affects the disabled themselves. And how they often feel as if they’re a liability and a burden to others. All within the disguise of a Mission: Impossible-style action film. Which is mostly through Margolin’s own fast-paced editing. In which scenes are dynamic and chaotic. And where scenes are shot traditional, but has a rapid base fueled into them.

This is also where cinematographer David Bolen comes into play. Bolen shoots the film in a natural light. One that reflects on Los Angeles and the outdoor settings. We also see how the cinematography contributes and demonstrates Thelma’s mental state. Also helping is the score by Nick Chuba. Chuba uses a combination of bongoes and drums to placate the film’s score. As a result, the editing and the score manufactures a collective pace. One that is just as momentous as the recent Mission: Impossible entry. Moreover, Brielle Hubert’s production design is grounded and realistic. Still, it manages to give off a neo-noir vibe. Which actually winds up working in tandem with the action movie tone, the film presents.

Performances in Thelma

THELMA: Parker Posey, Fred Hechinger, and Clark Gregg in a car.
Parker Posey, Fred Hechinger, and Clark Gregg in Thelma. Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

When it comes to the cast, June Squibb leads the film perfectly as Thelma Post. Squibb commands a compelling performance. One that is equal parts with determination. But also, equal parts with relatability. Her chemistry with Fred Hechinger’s Danny feels sweet and natural. Furthermore, her stuntwork is beyond impressive. In his last role before his death last year, Richard Roundtree becomes the standout performance as Thelma’s friend Ben. Equal parts feisty as Squibb and equal parts as fun, Roundtree brings dimensions to the character. Especially as he balances combativeness with supportiveness with Squibb’s Thelma. With the two becoming a lovely dynamic duo.

Likewise, Hechinger as Danny brings a parallel to Thelma, as the both of them are going through a stage of arrested development in their lives. And a parallel that brings nuance to his character and Thelma’s relationship, Finally, Clark Gregg and Parker Posey display great comic relief as Alan & Gail. However, this is most evident through contrast. With Posey’s Gail, she is mentally practical, often times looking at what makes sense practically. With Gregg’s Alan however, he is personally practical. This leads to them either fully agreeing with each other or being at odds with each other.

Final Thoughts

THELMA: Richard Roundtree and June Squibb walking away with a fire behind.
Richard Roundtree and June Squibb in Thelma. Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

With Thelma, writer/director Josh Margolin makes his feature debut. One that is funny. One that is sweet. And one that is disguised as a neo-noir action thriller. Mostly achieved through the editing and the score working in tandem together. But, this is complete with great performances from its cast, led by the magnificent Squibb. Overall, Thelma is a definitely one momentous rollercoaster. Just like Mission: Impossible.

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