The Wachowskis, 1996
Although The Matrix is not really my cup of tea (it's too sci-fi for my taste), I am convinced that
Three years before the Wachowskis entered The Matrix, they made their directorial debut with a sexy neo-noir crime thriller called Bound. Stylishly photographed, well acted, and intelligently written, Bound is about two women who go beyond the limits to f*ck over the f*ck-worthy mafia — not in a literal sense, get your head off the gutter! :P
Set in Chicago, Bound introduces us to Violet (played by her royal hotness, Jennifer Tilly) and Corky (a very butch Gina Gershon). Violet is the Betty Boopish moll of Caesar (Joe Pantoliano), who is a launderer for the notorious Marzzone "family." Violet is a kind of woman who knows what she is and what she wants. ("I know what I am. I don't have to have it tattooed on my shoulder.") Corky is an ex-con. She's now working for a Mr. Bianchinni by fixing things in the apartment next door to Violet's.
It was love at first sight between Violet and Corky. The two smart, beautiful women immediately established a strong connection with each other. And soon they find themselves scheming to steal $2 million from the Marzzone family. But will our heroines succeed?
Though not fully underlined, Violet and Corky's emotional connection has a potential to melt even the coldest heart. Bound is basically a love story with a lesbian twist. It uses the classic "two against the world" storyline. The film's title (subconsciously) refers to Violet and Corky's fate: they are bound to fall for each other. But we only get a glimpse of Violet and Corky's love affair. Romance enthusiasts would be a little unsatisfied, because the film dwells more on its mob thriller aspect. If only the Wachowskis broadened Bound's romantic ingredient, the film could have been a great contribution to the New Queer Cinema.
Although lesbianism is not exactly the main subject of the film, the lesbian element works as a heart that keeps the film pumping. Violet and Corky's climactic love scene, which is really steamy but not pornographic, is wonderfully shot and well choreographed. (Feminist sexpert Susie Bright, who also appears in the film, is the technical consultant for the love scenes.)
And despite the absence of Neo’s prowess, Bound is still equipped with energy. Raw energy. Black shades and leather jackets, which are usually present in the film, made Bound look like a semiprecursor to The Matrix. The black leather jacket fits Violet and Corky's sexuality very well. (The leather subculture is very prominent in the LGBT community.) Therefore the use of the said outfit is absolutely relevant.
Top: Jennifer Tilly as Violet.
Bottom: Gina Gershon as Corky.
L-R: Tilly as Violet. Gershon as Corky.
I love how the Wachowskis treated their characters. They looked at Violet and Corky with an objective point of view, hence the sense of neutralism. Caesar treats Violet as a mere accessory. But Corky sees Violet as someone to be loved. Women are generally sensitive. While most men, perhaps with the exception of guys like Mickey (John Ryan), are usually "sexitive."
The Wachowskis also did a great job with the screenplay. Most of Violet’s lines are enticing, especially the ones during the "cup of coffee" scene.
Violet to Corky: You’re doing all the work yourself? That is so amazing. I'm so in awe of people who can fix things. My dad was like that. We never had anything new. Whenever anything was broken, he would just open it up. Tinker with it a little bit. And fix it. His hands were magic.
As Violet, Tilly is bold, seductive, classy, and ultrahot. And, I don't mean to sound like a freak or anything, her hands are as sexy as her voice. (Thanks to Bill Pope for filming such beautiful hands.) Tilly exquisitely utilizes her innate sexiness into Violet. (I've always thought that the Tilly sisters are both attractive; Jennifer has a striking aura of sexiness, and Meg exudes an irresistibly sweet, mysterious charm.)
Fresh off Showgirls (a good bad film as most audiences call it), Gershon is convincing as Corky. It was said that Gershon modeled Corky after James Dean, Marlon Brando, and Clint Eastwood. And it worked really well. Gershon is nearly flawless as Corky, one would really think that she might be a lesbian in real life. (Sorry girls, she said she's straight.)
The tagline translates to "for sex, for money, for pleasure."
Bound is packed with underrated talents. The cast is exceptional. The actors fit their characters like a glove. Tilly and Gershon share an amazing chemistry. Pantoliano is excellent as the sadistic Caesar. He is definitely a scene stealer. The film also features Law & Order: SVU's Christopher Meloni, as well as Richard C. Sarafian (a.k.a. the genius behind 1971's Vanishing Point).
Pope's cinematography is very nice. Tight close-ups are prominent. The camera movements are mostly cool and quite experimental, definitely not boring. Don Davis' music is eclectic. The music during the cops' arrival is reminiscent of those music used in '40s film noirs, most especially Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity. The songs used are gorgeous. Tom Jones' She's a Lady is perfectly inserted.
The film opens with the scene of Corky bound and gagged in a closet. The voices of Violet, Corky, and Caesar speaking random lines can also be heard. It makes one wonder how Corky got into that predicament. Then cut to the scene where Violet and Corky meet each other for the first time. Bound uses nonlinear narrative, which gave the film an adequate mood of suspense. The pacing is dynamic, and the editing is clever and precise.
A very good example of hip and modern filmmaking, Bound proves to be one of the Wachowskis' finest achievements. Along with Pulp Fiction and Se7en, Bound ranks as one of the most innovative and highly entertaining films of the '90s.
Trailer for Bound:
DISCLAIMER: No copyright infringement intended. I don't own or claim to own any of the photos used.