Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bonnie and Clyde

The most immediate and striking feature of this film, for me, was the clear influence derived from the French New Wave.  The movie has some really well shot moments, and the film is generally less retricted than earlier Hollywood films.  The gratuitous (relatively) violence of the movie is a clear precursor to many later action films.  The themes dealt with in the movie are also very progressive, as Bonnie and Clyde presents its audience with characters that are both sympathetic and unrelatable.

The actual characters of Bonnie and Clyde are worth examining.  Bonnie starts as a seemingly innocent, if premiscous, stereotypical southern waitress.  The way she confronts the man trying to steal her mother's car, however, does not make sense right away.  Slowly, the audience begins to realize that his woman clearly has a huge sexual attraction to violence.  This is literally portrayed the first time Clyde brandishes his gun, as it may as well be his penis.  Despite these intial character developments, one must look further and ask, does Bonnie develop as a character?  While the exposition reveals an attraction to danger, this attraction remains pretty steady.  The only sign of remorse shown in Bonnie is near the end of the movie, when she asks Clyde what he would do differently if they could do it all over again.  At this point, her sexual needs are satisfied for the first time in the movie, and perhaps she has begun to rethink their wanton crime spree.

In my opinion, Clyde is less developed than Bonnie.  At times, he is part savant, a possibly compassionate criminal, more interested in fun than murder.  At other times, he seems the quintessential bully character, making others suffer to make himself feel good.  While these make for an interesting character, Clyde is unyielding; he maintains this quality throughout the entire film.  Even after he is able to have sex, presumably for the first time, he does not seem to have a carthasis, nor change in any noticeable way.

While the characters of Bonnie and Clyde are interesting, if static, the actual acting in the film is a point of conflict for me.  At times, the acting seems very cheesey, and clearly a concious act.  Warren Beatty's performance, while not terrible, lacks some consistency.  Times of extreme emotion tend to ruin his performance for me.  Faye Dunaway, while not lacking consistency, tends to overact during this film. Perhaps since this is the first film in English I have watched in a while, I tend to hold higher standards for the acting.  

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