BOUND is a classic film noir. It is made even more so with at
once both innovative and nostalgic cinematography by Bill Pope.
Although it is a color film, his color palette consists of exactly five
colors - black, white, gray, flesh tones, and red for blood. Actually,
there is a smattering of a sixth color, green, but that is it. If you
have to see blues, purples, or yellows in your pictures, don't bother
to see this film; they aren't there.
If you want to know more about the process behind this, last
Sunday's (October 6, 1996) New York Times's Arts and Leisure section
had a long and fascinating article about the cinematic process behind
this film. In it you get to learn all kinds of cinematographic lingo
and trivia, like what does the DP (Director of Photography) ask the set
designer when they first meet to do a picture?
The answer, so that I do not get a thousand letters asking me, is
"what is white to you." It seems there are innumerable gradations of
white, and the colors of the sets revolve that fundamental choice.
As in FORGO, the show is done by a couple of brothers. This time
is the Wachowski brothers, Andy and Larry, rather the Coens. The
Wachowskis both the directed the film and wrote the script. Although
some of the strong imagery and shock value is the same, the Wachowski
are just not in the same league as the Coens. The only other movie
credit the Wachowskis have is that they wrote the script for the
formulaic action thriller ASSASSINS for Sylvester Stallone.
All of this notwithstanding, BOUND is a good show with more twists
and turns that you can count. If you can guess them all, go to the
head of the class, I certainly couldn't, and for that reason I am going
to tell you very little about the story itself.
To make their film noir fresh and different, the Wachowskis have
the leads be a pair of lesbian lovers. One, Corky (Gina Gershon), does
home construction. She is tough as nails, has lots of tattoos, and is
usually very greasy from her work unclogging drains. The other, Violet
(Jennifer Tilly), looks sweet and harmless, but isn't. She is sort of
a permanently attached call girl to a money launderer, Caesar (Joe
Pantoliano), in the mob.
The plot is an elaborate double cross labyrinth. After the
obligatory scene where Corky and Violet meet and have some intense sex,
Violet tells Corky her plan to steal the two million dollars in mob
money that Caesar is holding until the big boss, Gino Marzzone (Richard
C. Sarafian), comes the next day to collect it. Corky is an ex-con who
was in for five years for "income redistribution." She is tough and
wise and tells Violet that she doesn't trust her. She says that having
sex with someone is easy, but you really have to know them to commit a
The story is told in flashbacks and flashforwards. Editor Zach
Staenberg cuts the scenes fast enough to maintain the high energy, but
not so quick as to confuse the audience with the time frames. The
strong and dramatic music by Don Davis has the horns blasting to keep
up the tension. Subtle it is not. The sound effects editing is
equally heavy. Listen for example to the sound of Caesar's heart about
to burst out of his chest when the cops arrive.
The acting is all good. Although he only got third billing, I was
particularly fond of Joe Pantoliano's realistic bumbling.
BOUND runs 1:49. It is rated R for sex, nudity, violence, gore,
and bad language. This is a film for adults and quite mature teenagers
not easily sickened when someone's fingers are being cut off. I had a
great time watching the plot's twists and turns so I recommend this
movie although granted it is not for everyone, and I award it ***.
Copyright © 1996 Steve Rhodes