Thursday, 26 March 2015

Bonnie and Clyde

Arthur Penn, working from a screenplay with a Robert Towne credit, puts aside knee-jerk morality to consider the titular duo as modern entities who take advantage of contemporary technology to push their legend. Bonnie and Clyde takes place in the dust bowls and foreclosed homesteads of the Great Depression. Bonnie starts out as a bored, flirty waitress, Clyde her skeezy carjacker. Terminally savvy, the gang concentrate their crimes on the villainous banks seizing local property, becoming folk heroes in the process.

Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty play the pair as youthful, sexually frustrated outlaws oblivious to the chaos they cause. Their robberies are just scaled up versions of tick (or tag if you're an American reader), with the couple causing some chaos then seeing if they can get to the state border before they're caught. To them it's a game, an opportunity to push their stolen cars as far as they can while spraying Thompson machine guns out the window. Penn's film seems to agree, scoring their escapes with hyperactive bluegrass.

The chic couple pose for photographs and mail in poems, always with a mind to how their story is being managed. The push back on this is particularly hateful. Bonnie and Clyde haven't just broken laws they've transgressed against the natural order of things. They've taken money from banks, made fools of Policemen. They've given people ideas. Lawful society doesn't just have an obligation to stop them, it needs to shoot them so full of holes that they no longer even resemble people.

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