Get out your guns and dirty money, we're reviewing Bound!
Corky(Gina Gershon) is an ex con trying to get back on the straight and narrow. Violet(Jennifer Tilly) is the girlfriend to a mobster(Joe Pantoliano as Caesar). They're lovers and they want to escape. Can Corky trust Violet to run away with her? Can Violet trust Corky not to leave her?
Hoooolyyyyy crap is Bound a great noir movie. How did no one tell me about this one sooner?! This is a film noir written and directed by the Wachowskis about two lesbian lovers. There's tension, there's shoot outs, there's lesbian sex scenes. You have no reason NOT to see this movie.
I still can't get over that this is a noir film featuring a lesbian as the main protagonist. And this is a movie from 1996! Film noir is an inherently sexist genre and you almost never see female protagonists(if you know of any, let me know, and no, Laura doesn't count!), let alone a lesbian. And they treat it properly, instead of insinuating that lesbians/homosexuals are the bad guys. At one point early on, Corky goes into a sex club to find some trouble, hitting on a cute girl in a booth. Then the girl's partner comes back, revealing that she's a cop! SUSPENSE. And yet, they still treat the characters as though they're in a society that frowns upon/ignores homosexuality. Caesar doesn't even consider the possibility of Violet and Corky together until it's right there in his face!
Even without that amazing story bit, Bound is still a tight and tense noir. They pack so much information into glances and subtle hints instead of outright telling you what's going on. And it has a number of great noir motifs: Characters who don't trust each other. Plan going to shit. A good person trying not to go bad. All the juicy noir bits that are soo so tasty! The one conceit I have is that the focus doesn't stay on Corky. It travels with Violet and then Caesar, and while the movie's so tight you really care about who's in the driver seat regardless(Caesar can be said to be the main antagonist, but when he's in the hot seat, you want him to get out), I though Corky was the most interesting character and wanted more of a focus on her. But having said that, it does give you a chance to question Corky's character, and not just blindly trust her to be good because she's the main focus.
This is the Wachowskis's first film, and even back then they knew their stuff. The mood is dramatic and it's filled with sweeping shots, tense close-ups and almost poetic camera movements. With so many extreme close-ups and fly-bys, you'd almost think you're reading a comic book. It feels like the same kind of dramatic experimental filmmaking the classic film noirs had. When Violet tries to seduce Corky, the scene is dripping sexual tension. Any hack filmmaker would have 2 actors glance at each other, and then have them go straight at it, but here they draw the tension out, holding an extreme close-up of Corky and Violet's lips, not letting them kiss for nearly a minute, before they finally give in.
Noir films ask questions, but the best films deliver on those questions. Bound is a noir that delivers. Can you trust someone who's a criminal? Can you ever really know a person? Can you pull off the perfect heist? What do you do when the plan fails? Can anyone really leave "the life"? These are all answered, and all answered satisfactorily. This film gives me a huge noir boner is what I'm saying.
Bound is a classic noir that may have been overlooked by even the best noir buffs, but it is well worth a watching. It's an intriguing, twisting, gut-wrenching crime drama with complex characters and two protagonists you never get to see in these kinds roles.
THE GOOD: Great noir, great performances, great cinemtography and score, very moody and dramatic atmosphere, lots of action, lesbian sex scenes.
THE BAD: Kind of wish it was more from the main character's perspective, but doesn't break the movie.
THE VERDICT: $$$$$ See it! Rent it! Stream it! Buy it! TECHNOLOGIC I mean uh it's a great noir and you should check it out. If you enjoy noir or you just like action, drama and girls smoochin', you will enjoy it.
MOVIES LIKE IT: Double Indemnity, The Postman Rings Twice, L.A. Confidential, Goodfellas
ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: The scene in which Violet seduces Corky should seriously be studied by film students who want to make tension-filled romance scenes instead of just plain porn.