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Bound (1996, Jennifer Tilly, Gina Gershon)

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The Wachowski brothers’ debut is a thickly plotted thriller with numerous nods in the direction of film noir, with double-cross after double-cross keeping the viewer gripped (and guessing) as the characters try to outwit each other to collect a stash of banknotes.

Ex-con Corky (Gina Gershon) turns up in town and, while trying to go straight, meets up with gangster Caesar (Joe Pantoliano) and his girlfriend Violet (Jennifer Tilly). A relationship ensues between Corky and Violet, with the latter asking Corky to help her escape the clutches of bungling, brutal Caesar. The gangster is in the middle of returning some mob money, which has been stolen by Shelley (Barry Kivel). In the confusion that follows, Shelley is shot and Caesar hightails it back to Violet with the money. What ensues is a wonderful web of deceit and deception, with Corky and Violet taking the money and blaming Caesar’s fellow gangster and sworn enemy Johnny (Christopher Meloni), who he shoots in a messed-up showdown. Caesar is running scared from the mob, while the crafty women stash the dough and try to play innocent. Will Caesar uncover his girlfriend’s plot?

Bound is full of breathtaking camerawork and ingenious shots as the Wachowski brothers guide viewers through the webs of deceit laid by their main characters, Violet and Corky. But the most ingenious of the directors’ notions lies in the fact that they make their two cunning and beguiling central characters forthright, independent lesbians. As Sight and Sound puts it, ‘This gimmick reinvigorates quite a few of the film noir clichés. These hot babes have been given brains, that – in the movie’s re-jigging of the noir formula – they are no longer punished for. Indeed, they get away with murder, which in no way compromises their winning qualities.’

The film acted as a very useful calling card for the brothers, who then went on to strike it rich with The Matrix .

production details
US | 109 minutes | 1996

Writers and Directors: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski

cast
Jennifer Tilly as Violet
Gina Gershon as Corky
Joe Pantoliano as Caesar
John P. Ryan as Mickey Malnato
Christopher Meloni as Johnnie Marzzone
Richard C. Sarafian as Gino Marzzone
Mary Mara as Sue, Bartender
Susie Bright as Jesse
Margaret Smith as Woman Cop
Barry Kivel as Shelly
Peter Spellos as Lou
Ivan Kane as Cop #1
Kevin Michael Richardson as Cop #2
Gene Borkan as Roy

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