Movie Review: Bound (1996)


Seen: On dvd on our projector set-up, rented from netflix.

Trying their soon-to-be-totally-famous hands at the sexy noir thriller genre, Andy and Lana Wachowski made their directorial debut with Bound in 1996. Gina Gershon stars as Corky, a hardened ex-con recently released from prison, trying to keep her head down as she does some home improvement for an unseen employer. The apartment she’s working on happens to be adjacent to that of mob lackey Caesar (Joe Pantoliano) and his girlfriend, Violet (Jennifer Tilly). Feeling an instant mutual attraction, the women soon begin a steamy affair, though Corky doesn’t think it’s anything lasting. Wanting to get away from her abusive criminal boyfriend, Violet enlists Corky in a scheme to steal millions in cash from him without spilling any blood. Their plan works at first, but over the course of one very intense evening it devolves into a homicidal mess that tests their newfound bond, and reveals Caesar’s true nature.

Situated primarily within the two neighboring apartments, Bound is a taut, serious bottle thriller, equally frank in its depictions of sex and violence. Contorting the typical straight man-woman-man love triangle by centering on two lesbians and one clueless heterosexual male, the story is compelling for its characters’ relationships as well as its sympathetic handling of queer themes. These ladies like to get naked together but they also like to get shit done, especially if that shit involves fucking over mobster assholes. Tilly and Gershon play their roles well, with the former blending vulnerability with iron resolution, and the latter affecting a convincing swagger to hide Corky’s deeper anxieties. Their own twisted morality shines like a beacon of truth amidst the brutality of their surroundings, the seemingly interchangeable male faces who work for the mob.

What is most impressive about this film is the use of space. 90% of the story takes place within these two apartments, one furnished and fancy, the other stripped-down and barren. Violet and Corky move quietly between these two disparate worlds, while the camera moves brazenly throughout each room, itself communicating action, tension, and fear. I could definitely see where some of The Matrix‘s distinctive visual style came from, as the Wachowskis’ camera creates a slick and thrilling atmosphere out of limited characters and settings. Because the film really distinguishes itself in its second half, when Violet and Corky’s plan is being carried out for better or worse effect, I felt the earlier portion of the film was weaker. There’s a little too much set-up, when this probably could have worked as a one-night story with a few flashbacks or something. It’s a really engaging film with some fun twists on the genre, but I probably would have liked it even better if the pacing or structure were handled differently.


Pair This Movie With: A classic film noir about screwing over a woman’s significant other for his money would suffice, something like Double Indemnity or The Postman Always Rings Twice.

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