In a first for A+E Networks, the programmer will simulcast the four-hour miniseries Bonnie & Clyde, across its three services, Lifetime, History and A&E. There is something for each audience.
Viewers of Lifetime, which was the original home for the film directed by Bruce Beresford and starring Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild) and Holliday Grainger (Showtime’s The Borgias), should be intrigued by a different take on a woman striving to leave a mark in the world and find a companion to make the journey worthwhile. Protagonist Parker realizes her wish fulfillment of enduring fame aided by the man who stands by her side — albeit with various weapons in hand and a coda draped in red.
For History watchers, the two-night event series is factual enough, toggling behind the truth and mythology of the “Public Enemy”-period celebrity couple and their cohorts. Barrow’s early criminal missteps are traced, perhaps a tad too slowly, as is his rape in prison and subsequent escapes aided by Bonnie. The film plays off the legacy of Parker’s gun moll photographs, her proficiency or lack of same with firearms, her callous comments about one of their victim’s heads bouncing like a ball and severe burns on her leg from a car crash with Clyde behind the wheel.
As for the former Arts & Entertainment Network, the project has some artsy, if supernatural, flourishes, because Clyde has been blessed with “second sight.” This “gift” affords him uplifting visions of Bonnie in a sunny field before their first encounter and of his lover as a ballet dancer. But there are darker visages of a white rabbit staring at his bulleted body in bathtub, and hails of gunfire.
Hirsch balances the bloodshed with Barrow’s realistic appraisal of life on the lam, one that sours as Grainger’s Parker escalates her taste for the thrills and kills.
This is not Arthur Penn’s famous theatrical of 46 years ago with Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty. Still, Bonnie & Clyde, especially with a different take on what led to their final return to Louisiana, qualifi es as the adjectival form of the original A&E initialism: entertaining.