Blu-ray Review: Bound (1996)

Bound BR CoverDistributor: Arrow Video

BBFC Classification: 18

Directors: Lilli Wachowski, Lana Wachowski

Starring: Jennifer Tilly, Gina Gershon, Joe Pantoliano, John P. Ryan, Christopher Meloni, Margaret Smith

To call Bound an erotic thriller is to do it a disservice as it is so much more than that. In the same way that the Coens Brothers’ Blood Simple – a film that shares several strands of DNA with this one – managed to make a simple(!) crime story a whole lot more by mixing it up stylistically and keeping you invested with interesting characters, Bound throws together elements of noir, gangster movies, tense eroticism and dashes of comedy and ties it all together with career-best performances from the three leads.

Corky (Gina Gershon – Killer Joe) is a lesbian ex-con just released from prison and hired as the caretaker in an apartment block where Violet (Jennifer Tilly – Bride of Chucky) and her mobster boyfriend Caesar (Joe Pantoliano – The Matrix) live. Corky and Violet begin a passionate affair and come up with a plan to steal $2 million of mob money from Caesar and pin the blame on his boss’ son, but after the money has been stolen Caesar reacts hastily and unexpectedly, and things go from bad to worse for Corky and Violet, who just want to be together.

Set mostly in one location and underplaying the lesbian angle, Bound could quite easily have turned into another Basic Instinct or Body of Evidence, using sex as a plot device and coming off as laughable, but instead the relationship between Corky and Violet is treated tastefully – just two lovers who both happen to be women – and the focus is on their respective characters. Tilly does her usual breathless style of delivery and plays the gangster’s moll perfectly, and Gershon does tough like no other actress currently working, bringing an edge to the film and a whole heap of sass to her role. However, it is Joe Pantoliano that steals the show performance-wise, beginning the film as a confident but slimy money launderer and transforming into a paranoid and violent maniac the next, all the while managing not to be comical which he can often seem in a lot of his roles.

The debut feature film by the Wachowskis, Bound is full of the inventive camera angles and directorial choices that the filmmaking siblings would become famous for over the next few years but – again, like with the Coens’ and Blood Simple – already this early in their career it is quite surprising how many of their now-established trademarks are already present, from small camera tricks like following a phone call along a telephone wire to more symbolic shots like having the two women on opposite sides of a wall and the camera panning over the top to capture them both as they pine for each other. It is these touches that separate good films from great films and Bound is definitely a great film from a period in time when it was becoming more and more difficult to stand out from the crowd and made by people with an eye for the cinematic rather than the sensational.

Bound

Special Features: Audio commentary with writer/directors Lana & Lilli Wachowski, actors Jennifer Tilly, Gina Gershon and Joe Pantoliano, editor Zach Staenberg and consultant Susie Bright, cast and crew interviews, Modern Noir: The Sights & Sounds of Bound featurette, vintage EPK featurettes, theatrical trailers, TV spots, stills gallery, reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sam Smith and collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by James Oliver.

UK Release Date: 18th August 2014

Arrow Films – Website

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