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TV Review: 'Bonnie & Clyde'

Holliday Grainer and Emile Hirsch in Bruce Bresford’s remake of "Bonnie & Clyde."

One of the most acclaimed movies of the '60s, Bonnie & Clyde, gets a TV update with Emile Hirsch and Holliday Grainger in the lead roles.

This two-part miniseries aired Sunday and Monday nights on A&E, History and Lifetime simultaneously.

"They were this teenage Robin Hood couple," say Grainger from The Borgias.

The 1967 movie, directed by Arthur Penn, and starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, tells the graphic story of Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, dubbed Bonnie & Clyde, who robbed banks for a living in early 1930s Texas. Star-crossed lovers, the pair enjoy the notoriety that comes with infamy. They roll with a gang until they're finally ambushed by the law.

Bruce Beresford's version is part-prequel and part-remake. We learn where Bonnie and Clyde are from and how they came together. A wannabe Hollywood actress, the glamorous Parker turns disappointment into alienation. When Barrow comes a-courting, she likes his style (and money) and decides to take on a new role as a Depression-era Annie Oakley. She's obsessed with having top billing, hence Bonnie & Clyde, rather than the other way around.

Barrow serves several terms in jail where he's raped and suffers an injury that results in a limp. The slightly-built Hirsch (Alpha Dog) plays it tough but sensitive; his Clyde has a heart. Grainger oozes sex in a vixenish role as Bonnie. Holly Hunter portraays her conflicted mother Emma. William Hurt rides in on horseback as veteran lawman Frank Hamer, who tracks Bonnie, Clyde, his brother Buck (Lane Garrison) and wife Blanche (Sarah Hyland) throughout Part 2.

Serioiusly outnumbered and outgunned, the Barrow Gang steals one classic car after another (mostly Fords, Clyde's favorite) as they motor around the Midwest, for the most part eluding the posse along the way. But their days are numbered, as is always the case with anti-heroes. It's a brutal, expected finale.

People who watched the miniseries and have not seen the original its based on should order the 1967 version on Netflix. While this new Bonnie & Clyde expands the daring duo's story, it lacks the sense of humor, subtlety, visceral power and visual beauty that made Penn's portrtait of '30s America so compelling.

Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of CelebStoner.com, editor-in-chief of Freedom Leaf, co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness, and the former editor of High Times.