Gershon and Tilly are Spellbinding in Bound
"Bound" is either a movie you will like or hate because it's a slightly strange, if at times surreal blend of various movie elements. On one hand it is a modern attempt at film noir with some lovely stylization, the next it's almost a comical crime caper as it delivers sly humour in a dramatic situation, then it's also quite brutal with stylistic shootings and mob action plus it is also thrilling combining all these elements into a guessing game of who will bite the dust or not. And of course "Bound" is also notorious for the lesbian sex scenes between a naked Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly. It has to be said a rather eclectic range of elements but for me it combines them quite brilliantly delivering an entertaining, comical, erotic thriller heavy on the stylization and fun.
Having been hired to renovate an apartment, lesbian ex-con Corky (Gina Gershon - Showgirls) meets her neighbour's gangster Caesar (Joe Pantoliano - Bad Boys) and his girlfriend Violet (Jennifer Tilly - Made in America) and is seduced by Violet's flirtatious ways. Together they decided to steal $2,000,000 which Caesar is holding for mafia boss Gino (Richard C. Sarafian) and in doing so set Caesar up for the fall but their plans don't work when Caesar reacts differently to how they expected.
At its heart "Bound" is quite a traditional crime thriller that involves gangsters, murder and missing money, none of which is in itself that amazing. But the Wachowski's in their first directional outing have fun with it. They give it a feel of film noir with their stunning stylizations, use of black and white and creative camera angles. But they also give it a touch of a theatrical who dunnit as various people enter the scene of a crime and you are made to wait to see if they will discover the gruesome clues to a murder or in fact they will also become victims.
It's strange because whilst there is tension and atmosphere it doesn't feel overly tense. Which is most likely because there is a stream of dark humour running through it. From Jennifer Tilly as the breathless Violet, almost imitating the lovely Marilyn Monroe, through to the clever way that Violet and Corky plan the robbery and Caesar's almost caricature gangster, it sort of makes you smile.
But then there is also a brutal violent aspect to "Bound" which keeps you on your toes. When Caesar walks into the bathroom with a set of cutting sheers you know something sinister is about to happen and the Wachowski's don't disappoint. It's sort of like a slightly toned down Quentin Tarrantino movie when it comes to the violence, brutal, occasionally in your face but the way it comes across there is also something slightly funny. The scene where Caesar and gangster Johnny get into a heated argument in front of mob boss Gino is a prime example, you know it's going to end in violence but the way it comes across, the actor's sinister smiles, the camera angles it all makes it a little bit humorous.
Plus of course there is the notoriety that "Bound" is about a couple of lesbians and I will be frank there is a short but very steamy lesbian sex scene between a naked Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon. But there is also something slightly funny about it rather than sleazy and it's just a tiny part of a much bigger movie. In a way it's a shame that "Bound" is better known for the lesbian sex scene and brief nudity rather than for its clever storyline, humour and film noir stylization.
As for the performances well as already mentioned Jennifer Tilly is good fun as the Marilyn-esque Violet, delivering everything dead pan but in a way seriously funny. Gina Gershon does well to appear in another movie which plays on her sexuality yet comes out having shown that she is not a bad actor, some how though the stigma of "Showgirls" still haunts her. But for me it is Joe Pantoliano as gangster Caesar who makes "Bound" so entertaining, he's like a caricature delivering humour from acting like an OTT gangster but then delivers the panic perfectly when he realises he's been set up. He pretty much steals the movie and delivers many of "Bounds" best moments, including a stunningly stylish yet simple climax.
What this all boils down to is that I really like "Bound". It's an eclectic mix of different genres but it works to deliver an entertaining, stylish movie which is both funny and thrilling with a touch of the erotic thrown in for good measure. But it is such a varied bunch of elements that it won't be everyone's cup of tea. What is a shame though is that most people know "Bound" for the lesbian element, the short but visual sex scene between Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon rather than for the clever movie it really is.