Sassy, glamourous and sexy, Lifetime’s two-part special Bonnie & Clyde: Dead and Alive tells the story of America’s favourite bank-robbing outlaws in a way we’ve never quite seen them before – two people madly in love and happy to get away with murder.
It’s hard to think of a real life tale that has inspired story-telling as much as the life and times of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barow, spanning films, books and even a musical. In this version the infamous pair are played by Emile Hirsch, who viewers might recognise from Killer Joe and Milk, and Holliday Grainger, from Great Expectations and much beloved and recently cancelled The Borgias, so it’s wonderful to see her back on our silver screen so soon. Other familiar faces are also present, including Modern Family’s Sarah Hyland, and Academy Award nominees William Hurt and Holly Hunter. From the marketing it seems that this particular depiction has chosen to focus a lot on Bonnie’s character. “The truth was,” Hirsch’s Clyde tells us, “I had a blind-spot a mile wide when it came to Bonnie Parker.” In particular, it seems to draw on her obsession with fame and having a place in history, which hopefully will give Grainger a chance to shine. Moreoever, Bonnie’s dedication to having her fifteen minutes can’t help but come across as timeless in an age of Vine, Twitter and viral videos.
The influence and importance of the media also appear to be present in the film, depicting how in a world where the country was starving, people who were standing up and taking what they thought they deserved were treated as Robin Hood-type heroes. No less, it could be argued to this day the public respects and admires them more than fears them. If there’s a story that will be welcomed over and over, it’s Bonnie and Clyde. Even the title says so: though long-dead, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow are very much still alive in the public consciousness.
A few criticisms have come up debating its merits due to the somewhat historical inaccuracy, and no doubt they’ll be some embellishing for entertainment purposes but as long as they’re not detrimental to the story they shouldn’t be too unwelcome. After all, even the 1967 award-winning interpretation of the couple’s story was criticised not only by historians, but by those who had actually belonged in Clyde’s gang. With a star-studded cast such as this, in a story known across the world, the performances are what audiences are really looking out for.
Despite its potential faults, Bonnie & Clyde: Dead and Alive seems to promise an interesting take on a fascinating part of history that, Bonnie Parker would be pleased to know, we never quite forgot.
The two part drama starts on Thursday 6th February and concludes on the 13th.