Metro Weekly

Thelma

Reel Affirmations 2003

Review by Will O’Bryan

Rating: starstarstarstar (4 out of 5)
Sunday, 10/19/2003, 8:00 PM
Feature presentation, $9 at Cecile Goldman Theater at the DCJCC
French with English subtitles

ThelmaAS THE TITLE character, Pascale Ourbih fills the screen with personality, charm, and energy. And she manages to fill Switzerland, Italy and Crete with a bit of it, too.

Laurent Schilling, co-stars as Fluery, a retired boxer/divorced parent/cab driver, who finds himself in Thelma’s employ. She needs to track down an ex-lover, and Fluery is just the driver to do it.

Avoiding much of the psychodrama of The Crying Game, Pierre-Alain Meier’s drama presents a simple story with a transgender element that is not overshadowed by the war-torn troubles of Northern Ireland. The troubles in Thelma remain personal and reasonable. Like The Crying Game, however, Thelma enjoys a soundtrack that can stand alone on its own merits.

The film does stumble into its start, spending too much time establishing Fluery’s relationship with his child and ex-wife as a means of foreshadowing Thelma’s own skeletons. But once Fleury and Thelma hit the road, even their most minor conflicts may leave you gasping.

That’s thanks largely to Ourbih, who makes a triumphant screen debut. She nearly forces a third dimension out of the two-dimensional medium. It will be a pity if more filmmakers don’t make an effort to harness her talent.

Thelma
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Follow Will O'Bryan on Twitter @wobryan.