We all know about Bonnie & Clyde, the notorious outlaws from the Depression era who were young, in love, and ruthless criminals. Director Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy) is taking on the task of telling their story in a four hour, two night, TV event which will be aired on three different channels simultaneously: History, Lifetime and A&E. The miniseries starring Emile Hirsch (Into The Wild) and Holliday Grainger (The Borgias) airs Sunday and Monday, and chronicles the events of their infamous crime spree in the early 1930s. Check out the trailer below and read on for a full review.
The miniseries also stars Academy Award winners William Hurt as Texas Ranger and eventual executioner Frank Hamer, and Holly Hunter as Bonnie’s Mother Emma Parker. Lane Garrison and Sarah Hyland appear as Clyde’s brother Buck and whiny sister-in-law Blanche, and Elizabeth Reaser portrays reporter P.J. Lane.
Some stories in the past have depicted Clyde Barrow as the hardened criminal who sweeps Bonnie Parker off her feet with a glamorous life of crime and power. In Beresford’s 2013 telling, the spin is that Parker is the one who made the impression on Barrow. A small-town waitress intent on becoming famous, she would pressure Clyde to push the boundaries of their crimes hoping to make the front cover of the paper. In this version, Bonnie was the trigger-happy one of the gang, with no regard for human life or remorse. After seeing how much fame the “Bonnie & Clyde” headlines gave her, she realized this was her ticket to fame. Holliday Grainger is a good actress but may not have been the best choice for this role. Her 1930s Texas accent is overdone and hard to look past. I do like how the writers made Bonnie out to be the more ruthless one. It’s an interesting twist on an already told story.
Clyde Barrow had a difficult life in the prison system, facing sexual abuse and violent confrontations with inmates and guards. Hirsch does a good job depicting this version of Barrow, a remorseful but hardened criminal who was in love but angry at the justice system. Some accounts of Clyde Barrow say that he had a “sixth sense” and could see things before they happened, that’s how he was able to elude the police for so long. This interpretation of Barrow uses the supernatural ability including Barrow seeing visions of Parker when he was a child, and picturing himself covered in bullet holes foreshadowing his violent death. With Clyde being broken and remorseful, and Parker being so selfish and deranged, I found myself feeling more sorry for Clyde than anyone.
The story of Bonnie and Clyde is exciting and legendary. Beresford’s miniseries is well done and well-acted, but the four hour length is a bit overdone. By the second night, it’s might be difficult to get back into the story which could result in a loss of viewers. We’ll see how it does.
Bonnie & Clyde airs on History Channel, Lifetime, and A&E (US only) on Sunday and Monday at 9pm EST.