Arts & Entertainment

Film Review: Thelma

Film Review by Susan Kandell Wilkofsky.

Move over Tom Cruise ~ There’s a new action hero in town, and for the record, she does her stunts!

Let me begin, dear readers, by sharing that Thelma was the first name of my beloved aunt, who passed away in 2005. So, I approached the screening of this film with a pre-existing fondness for the protagonist. By the end, the entire audience shared my affection. And who could blame them? Not since the classic TV show Golden Girls have we seen such a strong, woman-centric main character who also happens to be a card-carrying Social Security member.

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June Squibb as Thelma, Fred Hechinger as Daniel, her grandson.

In his feature directorial debut, Josh Margolin’s Thelma was the darling of the 40th annual Sundance Film Festival. The film opens with the 93-year-old Thelma (the marvelous June Squibb in the first starring role of her 70-year career!) in her tidy home, receiving computer tips from her beloved grandson Daniel (Fred Hechinger). After humorous sight gags involving pills and playing online mahjong, she gets a phone call from a scammer (Malcolm McDowell as a mangy-looking cur) who invokes the “grandparent scheme.”

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Richard Roundtree as Ben, and June Squibb, Thelma, chasing down the scammers!

He and his accomplice inform her that her precious grandson has an injury from a car accident, and she needs to send $10,000 in cash immediately to a local address. When she realizes these nasty characters have duped her, she makes it her mission to get her money back. With a little help from her friend Ben (Richard Roundtree in his final screen performance) and no assistance from the police, the two friends set out on a quest across Los Angeles to retrieve the cash. Not far behind are her daughter and son-in-law (Parker Posey and Clark Gregg).

The film relies heavily on sight gags and issues that affect senior citizens, like mobility sequences both on the road and in bed, spinning them into laughter-inducing comedic moments. I expected the heartwarming aspects of the film, but the comedy was surprisingly fresh and downright funny!

Today’s cinema often features impressive special effects, high-octane action, or coming-of-age stories exploring teenage angst. By contrast, Thelma recounts a refreshing tale with humor and a jolt of emotion that will appeal to all ages.

Let’s spotlight women of a certain age who have been conspicuously absent from the silver screen and celebrate their presence. And don’t forget to stay for the credits to meet the real “Bubbe,” who inspired the tale of Thelma.


Susan Kandell Wilkofsky

Susan Kandell Wilkofsky is a native of the Bronx and has lived in Dallas for over 40 years. In 2001, she co-founded the film series 3 Stars Cinema and is the program artistic director. Kandell Wilkofsky is an award-winning photographer, receiving the Matrix Award from Women in Communications and winning the American Mensa PhotoCup competition three times. She is a proud member of the North Texas Film Critics Association, where she served as secretary for over ten years, even though her penmanship is terrible.

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