TV Movie Review: 'Bonnie and Clyde' Part 2

America’s iconic outlaws roared back in the second half of this four hour mini-series event, to a better quality than its previous installment saw. The action quotient was significantly heightened and it increased the overall pace substantially.

The historical authenticity continued to blur the lines of fiction with heavy theoretical “insight” that attempted to fill in the countless holes that composite the current knowledge, concerning the psychological motivations of the two enigmatic outlaws.

“Bonnie and Clyde” begged more questions than it answered. Looking to a film to answer lingering questions surrounding historical persons is perhaps not the best way to go about learning a history lesson. However, there is/should be a certain unspoken rule that one shouldn’t completely defy all historical knowledge available to obscure or create an image of someone for dramatic effect. The show had touted itself as trying to be somewhat illuminating during its promo circuit, citing the actors studying the real Bonnie’s diaries. 

It quickly became clear as the show progressed that, it was instead, a re-imagining of sorts that was using Bonnie and Clyde as the basis for a rollicking romance buoyed by a cunning femme fatale and her lovesick beau.

It’s a story that could have just as well been told, using fictional characters as its source. It somewhat falls into the line of certain historical fiction writers, who have conjured up some interesting twists and turns, that history may or might not, corroborate. 

Personally, the “answers” provided by the series, in terms of Clyde’s motivations rested firmly in the field of absolute fiction. His being a near-death soothsayer, who had a paranormal vision, is simply beyond the realm of believability. From that point on, you have to accept that the show is simply a work of invention.

Clyde deliberately walking into his death trap, at the end of the movie, is a divisive suggestion and it is one of the more, thought-provoking hypotheses the series offered. They did explain that due to his paranoia he’d developed a heightened sense of hearing, which was believable enough.

The narrative; director Bruce Beresford (“Driving Miss Daisy” and “Double Jeopardy”) produced, played with too much theatrical foreplay, distracting viewers with absurd visions. The script did nothing to build on the lovelorn or tragic circumstances that would’ve provided better insight into these characters, either.

Bonnie mentions at one point that if what Clyde thinks of her is true, she deserves to die and this is accurate, given what is demonstrated in the movie. They are absolutely irredeemable. It is possible for a person to be that discernibly evil.

It just seems a rather simple conclusion to come to, within the span of four hours, especially, if there wasn’t any exhaustive research performed on the actual people. If you can accept the series for what it is, fiction, it was entertaining.

The performances were worth-while. Emile Hirsch seemed to find his footing in Part 2, portraying the unspooling mental state of Clyde with appropriate measure. Playing the inner conflict brewing beneath the surface, Hirsch utilized his optical expressions with significant effect. He also portrayed Clyde’s obliviousness, to that fact; he was in the midst of an unrequited love affair with Bonnie (Holliday Grainger). He played it as being more tragic than pathetic, a pleasant innovation. 

Grainger for her part continued her magnificent work from Part 1, playing Bonnie as a despicable creature throughout. The last act offered her the opportunity to demonstrate her outstanding range as an actress, quickly turning the emotional tables with Bonnie’s stung reaction to Clyde’s verbal lashing. In the end, Grainger and Hirsch didn’t possess a chemistry that enthralled or convinced of the supposed, connection the two characters felt for one another, a missed opportunity.

Lane Garrison (“Prison Break”) and Sarah Hyland (“Modern Family”) were severely underwritten for and their ability to build a characterization was hampered as a result.  The same could be said for Holly Hunter and William Hurt, both talented actors that were given little to nothing to play, in terms of complexity.

In the end, one can only hope someday these historical figures will be given an accurate depiction. Until then, there is research that is available to better ascertain more truth than “Bonnie and Clyde” has to offer. While doing that, there are also movies that have superiorly portrayed a similar set of circumstances. “The Newton Boys”, “Billy Bathgate” and the previously mentioned, “Public Enemies” and “Lawless” all create a more defined vision, worth giving a gander. Rating: 7/10

[Image by A&E]

Part 2 Rating: 7/10
Part 1 Rating: 6.5/10
Bonnie and Clyde: Part 1 - Review

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