Directed by Vondie Curtis-Hall (‘Glitter’), the hood movie ‘Waist Deep’ depicts a stylistic picture of the criminal underworld of suburban L.A. While the film lacks enough plot, it more than compensates with the generic brand of graphic violence, high-speed pursuit, and occasional voyeurism of its female protagonist. The premise is quite simple. The son of an ex-con (Tyrese Gibson) gets abducted, and the ex-con teams up with a sassy woman (Meagan Good) to raise the ransom in seemingly unlawful ways.
While the film deliberately tries to be a stereotypical Hollywood action thriller, the viewer may be wondering whether the film is tethered to reality. If you have come out to look for the historical origins of the film, we shall quench your curiosity without further ado.
Is Waist Deep Based on a True Story?
‘Waist Deep’ is loosely based on a true story. The screenplay for the film is developed by Vondie Curtis-Hall and Darin Scott from ‘Bonnie and Clyde,’ the classic 1967 film by Arthur Penn. Unarguably one of the landmark canonical films of the New Hollywood era, the film has lasting significance in the popular culture of America. ‘Bonnie and Clyde,’ in turn, is an adaptation of the true accounts of the famous criminal duo of the same names.
While there have been a couple more films that center upon the misadventures of the notorious couple, such as ‘The Bonnie Parker Story (1958),’ and ‘The Highwaymen (2019),’ the Arthur Penn film is placed among the all-time best films in its own accord. The hood film in context uses the popular story of criminal couple Bonnie and Clyde and gives it an all-black makeover. However, the Arthur Penn film had minimal semblance to the historical events, to begin with, and thus ‘Waist Deep’ becomes twice removed from reality.
Bonnie Elizabeth Parker and Clyde Chestnut Barrow were a pair of notorious dacoits from Texas who came to prominence during the “Public Enemy Era” of the early 1930s. Together they formed the infamous Barrow gang, the stories of whose exploits would fascinate a generation. America of the 1930s was characterized by an economic recession of unprecedented magnitude owing predominantly to the war. The event is referred to in history as the “Great Depression,” the woes of which is articulately portrayed in Hollywood classics such as Charlie Chaplin’s ‘Modern Times.’
The people of the country were increasingly hard-pressed in the dire time, and the seemingly unbelievable (and often exaggerated) press coverage of Bonnie and Clyde’s criminal exploits helped the populace divert their minds from the gloomy reality of the era. The duo was depicted as actors living their own real-life drama, like how the Kardashian-Jenner family captured the country’s popular imagination at the beginning of the 21st century with their reality show, ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians.’
Barrow and Parker gained popularity for a series of bank robberies, but they preferred robbing gas stations and small department stores. In the 2006 film, Coco and O2 go on a robbing streak as they swindle from one bank to another. In the latter half of the film, they go to a department store where the storeowner asks for Coco’s autograph since he thinks their exploits are nothing less than Bonnie and Clyde’s. In this one moment, the association of the film with reality is made apparent. Like Bonnie and Clyde in real life, the fictional criminal couple also loves each other.
However, apart from these superficial similarities, the linkages between fact and fiction are thin. Bonnie and Clyde would operate with a gang, while Coco and O2 perform the exploits on their own. While many historians believed that Bonnie and Clyde fell in love with each other in their first meeting, Coco and O2 are seen to be having a rough start which eventually transforms into an intimate relationship.
Moreover, while the characters in the film can escape to a fictional utopia, Bonnie and Clyde’s fate was more somber. They were killed on May 23, 1934, after being tailed by lawmen with Texas Ranger Captain Frank Hamer on the lead. Therefore, while the film takes inspiration from the real-life incidents of Bonnie and Clyde, it deviates from it to create a glamorous fictional piece of its own.
Read More: Where Was Waist Deep Filmed?