Combustible Celluloid Review - Bound (1996), Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski, Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski, Jennifer Tilly, Gina Gershon, Joe Pantoliano, John P. Ryan, Christopher Meloni, Richard C. Sarafian, Mary Mara, Barry Kivel
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With: Jennifer Tilly, Gina Gershon, Joe Pantoliano, John P. Ryan, Christopher Meloni, Richard C. Sarafian, Mary Mara, Barry Kivel
Written by: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski
Directed by: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 107
Date: 08/30/1996

Bound (1996)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Sex and Money

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Bound joins the list of excellent, violent and itelligent crime movies of the nineties that includes: The Grifters; After Dark, My Sweet; Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Miller's Crossing, Fargo, One False Move and Devil in a Blue Dress. It's also a terrific lesbian movie because it doesn't seem to care that it's a lesbian movie. It's not the point of it. Bound is more interested in its plot and characters than its sexual politics.

I don't want to give anything away, so, in one sentence, Bound is about gangster's moll Violet (Jennifer Tilly) and ex-jailbird handywoman Corky (Gina Gershon) falling in lust with one another and trying to steal $2 million of the mob's money from Violet's boyfriend Caesar (Joe Pantoliano). Some of this stuff I've seen before, a lot of it I haven't, and I was on the edge of my seat most of the time.

The movie was written and directed by the Wachowskis and it's their first (aside from a screenplay credit on the Sylvester Stallone film Assassins). It seems as if they might have wanted to film Bound in black and white (it's likely that the money hungry producers wouldn't let them) because everything is composed in harsh blacks and whites. Even Jennifer Tilly's lipstick is black. The color red comes into the equation every once in a while, if you know what I mean. If you're disturbed by red, better watch something else.

There's a sex scene between Gershon and Tilly that's already been much-discussed. It's worth your attention. The best part is watching Gershon's toes curl.

It's 2024, and lot has happened since I wrote the breathless review above. Firstly, the filmmakers, credited as "Andy and Larry," have both come out as trans, and are now Lana and Lily. Secondly, of course the movie was interested in sexual politics. The Wachowskis even hired sex scholar Susie Bright as a consultant. It was harder to say anything back then than it is today, so the film cleverly deflects the issue. Corky and Violet are attracted to each other. It's genuine, and it's honest, and, what's more, they are in love. Otherwise, they wouldn't risk everything to be together. I think that last part doesn't get enough notice.

The Criterion Collection has released a spectacular new 4K and Blu-ray set (as well as a standalone Blu-ray) that lets us look at the film with fresh eyes. It's still wildly entertaining, and wildly sexy, but it has more to say that it seemed at the time. Certainly there's a wealth of bonus material to support that: a new video essay by critic Christina Newland (17 minutes), archival interviews with actors Gershon, Tilly, Pantoliano, and Meloni; archival interviews with director of photography Bill Pope, editor Zach Staenberg, and composer Don Davis; interviews with professor B. Ruby Rich and professor Jennifer Moorman, a featurette on the title design, and trailers. The liner notes booklet includes an essay by scholar McKenzie Wark. An archival commentary track (recorded by "Andy and Larry") is offered on both the 4K and Blu-ray; otherwise, all extras appear on the Blu-ray. The video transfer and audio track are both superb. Highly Recommended.

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