Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Movie – Bound (1996)

Back in the 1990s the Wachowski Brothers (now the Wachowskis) had this movie idea about a man trapped in a virtual reality.  While the studio was intrigued by the concept, the film would be expensive and there was no way they were going to give that kind of budget to first-time filmmakers.  To show that they were not amateurs they took a page from the Coen Brothers’ manual and wrote and directed the relatively inexpensive noir/thriller Bound.  The film was critically praised and this enabled them to make the film they really wanted to do – The Matrix (1999).  The thing is, Bound is a great movie in its own right.  I still hope the two revisit this genre at some point.

Bound plays out like a traditional film noir, but with one major difference.  There’s the guy from the wrong side of tracks.  There’s the femme fatale who seduces him and convinces him to do something dangerous for her.  There’s the dangerous husband of the femme fatale who is the mark.  The big difference here is that the “guy” isn’t a guy at all; it’s another woman.

The film opens with this woman (Gina Gershon – Face/Off) bound in a closet.  She is struggling to get out of the ropes.  This immediately grabs your attention.  What is going on?  While she is doing this she starts to think back to how she got herself into this situation.

Corky (Gershon) is an ex-con who is making a living as a plumber.  One day she is called to work in the apartment of Violet (Jennifer Tilly – Bullets Over Broadway).  Violet is the “kept woman” of a gangster named Caeser (Joe Pantoliano – The Matrix).  There is an immediate attraction between the two women.  Corky thinks Violet is just messing with her head, but Violet very convincingly shows Corky that she is attracted to her.

Like all great femme fatales, Violet is too much for Corky to resist.  The two eventually end up in bed together.  Author Susie Bright, who has a small role in the film, acted as the “lesbian consultant” for the sex scenes.  She pointed out to the Wachowskis that most films get them wrong.  The result is that the film was praised for accurately portraying how two women make love.

Of course, there is still the matter of Caeser standing in the way of Corky and Violet living “happily ever after”.  Violet just happens to have an idea.  They could steal two million dollars that Caeser is holding for the mob.  Not only will they be rich, Caeser will be blamed for the money disappearing and the mob will get rid of him for them.  They put the plan into action, but Caeser doesn’t react like they thought he would.  He takes a different direction, and tension mounts as he starts getting closer and closer to the truth.

All three do terrific jobs with their roles.  Pantoliano is great as the gangster who, though desperate, is still thinking through things and not completely panicking.  Tilly is great as the trophy wife who has a brain in her head.  In fact, she may be too smart for Caeser, or for Corky, or maybe even for both.  Gershon is great as the woman who is drawn into this web in spite of herself.

The tension seriously gets ramped up as the movie goes along.  There’s a great “oh shit” moment that involves only a ringing telephone.  You’ll know the scene when you see it.  And by the way, how did Corky end up bound in that closet?

This is a really entertaining movie.  Unless you are uncomfortable with female sexuality, then I highly recommend this film.

Chip’s Rating: 4 out of 5 stars



  1. I just couldn't like this film because of Jennifer Tilly--I can't stand her. Gina Gershon wasn't bad, but then her career just went in a very strange direction after this.

  2. @KimWilson - I've heard other people say they don't like Tilly's voice; that it bothers them. I agree on Gershon. This was probably her best movie.

  3. Another awesome review and yet again I didn't even know this movie existed. I loved Tilly in Bullets Over Broadway but I'm worried about her dealing with more serious material.

  4. @Sati. - Thanks once again. Unfortunately, I haven't seen Bullets Over Broadway, so I can't tell you how the two performances compare. I can tell you that this is Jennifer Tilly before she became almost a parody of herself (i.e. the Chucky films).

  5. Chip I saw this way back in the day. I recall liking it at the time but was certainly watching with a much less critical eye. I think it is time for a rewatch, adding this to my watch list.

    Nice review

  6. @threeguys1movie - Thanks. Please let me know what you think of it this time around.

  7. I LOVE Bound, easily my favorite Wachowski flick (which I know is saying a lot). It's so smooth and sleek and sexy; I just think it is superbly done. Also, how funny is the sight of Joey Pants ironing all of those bills? Love it.

  8. @Alex Withrow - There is a bunch of humor in the film, isn't there?