Beyond the Limits

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 The Wachowski Brothers The Wachowskis have an impressive talent to create flawlessly entertaining, kinetic films. The Wachowskis, comprised of Andy and Larry (who is now called "Lana"), know how to equilibrize different genres in one film; in The Matrix movies, they successfully fused action, romance, sci-fi, and thriller.

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 the 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 LGB 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 LGB 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 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.

That line has a naughty undertone in it. And Tilly, with her cute and sexy voice, said it in such an alluring manner. She makes it sound like she's not just flirting with Corky, but with the audience as well.

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.)

French poster for the film.
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.


Ajinkya said...

Hey Iza! How are you?
Well,there's no post from you since last 2 months! Your audience is eagerly waiting..
Guess, you're busy with something important.
Also, I wish i could talk to you on gmail or skype..

A bientot,

That Film Enthusiast said...

Hey there! I've been kinda busy this past few weeks. Been trying to finish a novel. I'm practically a hermit nowadays.
How have you been? Unfortunately, I have no skype or gmail.

Ajinkya said...

Hi Iza,
Unfortunately, I didn't receive any notification regarding your reply and am reading it now. I knew you must have been busy with something important and a Novel sounds uber-awesome! All the best for it! Right now, I'm an insomniac, it is 4.15am here, I just finished a very good hindi film Udaan (2010). This was my 2nd time and thought to share it with you and this was how I came to know abt your reply. The film is produced by Anurag Kashyap and selected for the Un Certain Regard at Cannes.
Don't know whether you are practising your religion of watching films amidst of writing the novel.
Hey,and finally, Merry Christmas to you!! Have a great time.

Ajinkya said...

Hi Iza,
Want to tell you that I'd like to have the privilege to be the one to own the first copy of your novel when it is out :)


That Film Enthusiast said...

Hi there Ajinkya! I've been very busy with my novel. That's why I haven't any new films lately. I'll probably go back to my "religion" after I finish my novel's first draft. (I'm kinda surprised that novel writing isn't a piece of cake. Poetry is rather easy compared to prose writing.) I'll let you know as soon as my novel gets published (if it ever does).

I checked out Udaan's synopsis; it seems interesting, like Dev D. The former seems rather heavy in terms of its dramatic element. They're definitely on my "films-to-watch" list.

BTW, Belated Happy Holidays! :)

Ajinkya said...

Hi there Iza,
Wish you a very happy Valentine's! Hope you are doing great at your end.
But as I type this message, I'm thinking that this is Off the Post and you shouldn't be replying.
Just read this Greeting of mine (I'll assume you'd wished the same to me back ;) and your reply and this msg won't appear on the blog and spoil its beauty).
From my end,I'm exploring my photography skills these days. Nothin much else..
Well, have a pleasant and a wonderful day ahead! :)

Man Ray: A man in love with a woman from a different era. I see a photograph!
Luis Buñuel: I see a film!
Gil: I see insurmountable problem!
Salvador Dalí: I see rhinoceros!
( I loved Midnight in Paris! :) )

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