I have usually disliked the films of Arthur Penn, with The Left Handed Gun as an exception. Bonnie and Clyde (1967) is another exception: I mostly agree with Pauline Kael’s positive review of it. The film is as tragicomic as they come, unremittingly tragicomic, which leads me to quote what may be the most interesting sentence in Kael’s review: “The tragedy of Macbeth is in the fall from nobility to horror; the comic tragedy of Bonnie and Clyde is that although you can’t fall from the bottom you can reach the same horror.” Actually there is a kind of fall for Bonnie and Clyde, on the bottom though they are, when the killings start taking place, the horror consequently rushing in.
Penn’s movie, despite its faults, is still a directorial treasure (Godard-like or not), and still exciting. Some of the acting is unrestrained, but mainly it’s vivid and magnetic.