out of 4
All-Reviews.com Movie/Video Review
|*Also starring: ||Barry Kivel, Christopher Meloni, Joe Pantoliano, John P. Ryan, Peter Spellos||
Review by MrBrown
4 stars out of 4
On paper, the noir thriller Bound did not seem like the most
promising of cinematic prospects. Writers-directors Larry and Andy
Wachowski's only other major credit was for writing Richard Donner's
entertaining but overblown Assassins; lead Jennifer Tilly has a tendency to
be grating, to say the least; and co-star Gina Gershon was just coming off
her overwrought camp queen turn in Showgirls. But thanks to a clever
script, strong performances, and very accomplished direction, Bound is one
of the year's biggest surprises.
I thought my low expectations were being met during the film's first
twenty minutes, in which mafia moll Violet (Tilly) tries to seduce the
lesbian grease monkey ex-con (Gershon) next door. With Tilly delivering her
come-hither lines in an even softer, squeakier voice than usual and
Gershon's Corky keeping one eyebrow perpetually raised, these opening scenes
play like Showgirls 2; in fact, some of the dialogue is reminiscent of the
infamous "tit" discussion scene in Joe Eszterhas's notorious script.
Needless to say, Violet and Corky finally do end up in bed, and the big sex
scene is actually done very discreetly and tastefully though it still
elicited some giggles from the audience.
These opening moments are something of a joke. It's as if the
Wachowskis knew expactly what the audience was expecting--cheesy lesbian
sex--so they delivered it in all its campy glory. But in doing so, it gets
that lesbian angle out of the way quickly, so when the main plot does get
into gear, the audience is not distracted by the anticipation of the big sex
scene. As laughable as the opening minutes are, they are key to
understanding the relationship between the two women, and they take on a
greater dimension in retrospect as the movie unfolds.
After the sex scene, the tone quickly shifts, and the main plot is
set into motion. Violet, fed up with the violent antics of her boyfriend,
mob launderer Ceasar (Joe Pantoliano), wants to leave him--but not without
absconding with $2,000,000 of the mob's cash. And who does she enlist to
help her in her scheme? Why, none other than Corky, who cooks up a
"foolproof" plan to steal the cash and frame Ceasar for the theft. However,
you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men...
This all sounds fairly formulaic, and, to a certain extent, it is.
But what makes Bound so special is the work of the Wachowski brothers.
Their script piles on twist after twist and close call after close call, and
the developments are very believable and not out of left field. For
example, in a particularly suspenseful scene, a mob figure (John P. Ryan)
breaks out a set of lockpicks to open a locked case, much to the shock of
Ceasar; this revelation does not come off as gimmicky because, earlier, he
nonchalantly unlocked a door without a key. The Wachowskis pay close
attention to those little details, ones that the audience does not typically
pick up on, using them to rattle the audience later on without insulting
Another refreshing aspect of the script is the presence of three
strong and intelligent characters. At first, it appears as if Corky is the
only one with brains, but as the film progresses Violet and especially
Ceasar prove to be not nearly as dumb as they appear, giving just as good as
they get. The casting of Tilly and Pantoliano is perfect; Tilly's squeaky
voice and Pantoliano's New Yawk accent and buffoonish demeanor would make it
easy for someone to underestimate them.
As well-crafted as their script is, the Wachowskis energize it with
a hefty dose of style. The film is always visually interesting, using
varieties of camera angles and movements, occasionally venturing into
slow-mo without overusing it. One of their more interesting touches is
aping certain visual cues from other films and putting their own twisted
spin on them: Jurassic Park's famous image of quivering water is
duplicated--in a toilet bowl; and the bravura opening shot of Krzysztof
Kieslowski's Red, which travels along long-distance telephone lines, is
evoked in a clever and hilarious way. Unlike some directors, who go for the
good-looking shot, plot credibility be damned, the Wachowskis come up with
some stunners that work well within the story, such as when a person gets
shot while standing in a pool of white paint, eventually falling in. It's a
great-looking image, with the blood clashing against the white, but the
presence of the paint is explained by the fact that, earlier in the film,
Corky is shown painting her apartment.
Bound has just come off of a tour of various film festivals,
becoming an audience favorite at every one of them. As it embarks on its
run in (mainly arthouse) theatres, I am sure it will become a favorite of
everyone fortunate enough to be sitting in the auditorium.
Buy movie posters!