Bonnie And Clyde (1967)

February 25, 2010

…We rob banks.

I’d not seen this before, or heard very much about it. It’s clear to me now that this was an error. This is a movie that takes a true story, and then takes fairly great liberties with it, not to make it “more cinematic” or for commercial concerns, but because the writers and
director have something (actually, lots of things) to say. It’s also a movie that switches abruptly between a very jokey tone (there’s a beautiful visual joke set around a gag that Buck Barrow (Gene Hackman) is over-fond of telling) and shocking and realistic violence. These tone
switches are jarring and disconcerting, and clearly intended that way, which is, it seems to me, film-making of the highest order.

One thing that surprised me was how “actorly” a film it is, though there’s violence and action and Flat and Scruggs playing bluegrass, there’s enough time for Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty to act, which they do remarkably well, letting silence speak as loudly as the words.

Although you know the ending’s coming, and it builds and builds with an inevitability, you end up wishing there was another way. The look that passes between Clyde and Bonnie at that moment is one of the finest things I’ve seen.

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