Review by: Jennifer Brooks
This is a sizzling hot, masterfully crafted thriller, and among the very best lesbian cinema has to offer. There are many who claim this is not a lesbian film because even though the main characters are gay, the story isn’t about them being gay. For that point alone, I say “Thank God!” It’s mind numbingly dull when a movie tries in vain to create something interesting around the fact that the leading ladies are lesbian. Now if you have a movie where something extraordinary happens to characters who just happen to be lesbian, and they have to navigate their way through a thrilling, suspenseful, steamy mess, that is the making of a truly good lesbian film.
When beautiful mob moll, Violet (Jennifer Tilly), first lays eyes on ex-con Corky (Gina Gershon), she wants her. It’s that simple. Violet takes the first available opportunity to lure Corky to her apartment. Gershon plays Corky with more than a touch of James Dean. She’s the strong, silent type with a delicious bad-girl edge; she’s tough yet vulnerable.
Violet “plays the game” to survive in her world and get what she wants. For her that means playing it up as a dim, but sweet and compliant sex kitten. The Wachowski brothers play against expectations for her character to great effect, and when an opportunity presents itself to get away with two million dollars of the mob’s money, she recruits Corky to help her pull it off. Violet desperately wants out, and this chance to escape the confines of her life with mobster Caesar (Joe Pantoliano) is too good to pass up.
All goes as planned—to a point. Then the lovers have to play the game very carefully and above all, trust each other if they’re going to survive. The violence throughout Bound is a blatant homage to Quentin Tarantino, so you might cover your eyes in one or two scenes.
The movie opens with a scene from the end of the story, and the intensity instantly grabs the viewer. This technique is reminiscent of Tarantino movies, but is not taken to the same extreme. Running to catch up with the movie is part of the fun.
Symbolism saturates the film with seductive images of hands and water representational of female sexuality. It’s a very wet film. Bound plays up the sexual tension with no apologies. The inextricable mingling of sex and deepest intimacy – of lesbians feeling like a part of each other – is declared in Tilly’s husky voice in the opening lines of the film. This bond, a main theme and namesake of the film, is twofold in Bound. Corky and Violet forge the bond of sexuality easily, but build the bond of trust with more difficulty. They are bound by love, by desire, by their wish to break free of the confines of their lives, and ultimately by trust. Trust is the keystone to their heist, and the stakes are life and death.
“Sexpert” Susie Bright was initially brought in as an extra (Corky sits at her table in the bar scene). Bright ended up working as the consultant for Gershon and Tilly’s sex scenes. Fortunately she is a much better sex consultant than actress. These are among the hottest, most realistic sex scenes in a lesbian movie. So much so that parts had to be deleted for the film to get an R rating in the USA. The non-explicit but intensely sexual images of Gershon and Tilly must have gotten the Motion Picture Association of America a little too hot and bothered.
The Wachowski brothers wrote and directed this noir thriller. They used assumptions and stereotypes to their advantage and created a new twist on an old genre. Bound is about two women who are lesbians, and they laudably turned down offers to produce the screenplay if they agreed to change the butch lead character to a man. They waited and produced the film as it was meant to be.
The acting ranges from stellar to painful (most conspicuously the non-actor dykes in the bar scene – sorry, girls). In all, this is the most brilliant, well-crafted openly lesbian movie of any genre available today. If Bound isn’t the first full-fledged lesbian thriller, it’s certainly the best.
Date Night: HIGH
It’s hot, suspenseful, fun, and hot.
Great suspense and lots of fun, it keeps you guessing.
Realistic portrayal of lesbian relationships, assuming the women are hip deep in a daring scheme to rip off dangerous mafiosos.