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Bound

Year: 1996
Production Co: Din o De Laurentiis
Director: The Wachowski Brothers
Writer: The Wachowski Brothers
Cast: Gina Gershon, Jennifer Tilly, Joe Pantoliano, Christopher Meloni

Up until Jupiter Ascending, the Wachowskis proved themselves to be years ahead of anyone else in sci-fi and this, their calling card in Hollywood, was the same thing in gender relations.

Bound is a very straight-arrow noir thriller in everything from the characterisations to the dialogue, and the fact that the hero is a down on her luck woman who falls for the wiles of the femme fatale and gets drawn into a deadly game is little more than incidental. The script assumes everyone here is comfortable and assured with their sexuality and just happen to fall in love or see opportunities to get ahead in classic Hammet/Chandler fashion besides. If it had come along 20 or 25 years it would have been a MeToo and woke-era masterpiece.

Gina Gershon is Corky, an ex con trying to keep hear head down working as a plumber and painter in a cool apartment building when she comes across a neighbour, Violet, played to husky but baby-voiced, wide-eyed innocent but sexy-as-hell perfection by Jennifer Tilly.

The chemistry between the two is immediate and despite Violet's brash mobster boyfriend Ceaser (Joe Pantoliano), the pair are drawn to each other, falling into bed in what was at the time a very attention-commanding sex scene that detracted somewhat from the impact of the rest of the film at the time.

After Violet sees another man in her and Ceaser's circle being beaten and tortured because their crooked paymasters have caught him skimming ptofits, she decides she wants out. She tells Corky about two million in mob money that will be in her apartment under Ceaser's care that the pair can swipe and live off together.

They hatch a plan involving a visiting mob boss and his lackeys, the suitcase containing the cash and a whole lot of crackerjack timing involving Ceaser thinking a rival has taken the money and got him off the hook, assuming they've got it made.

But Ceaser is either wiser or far more stupid than Corky or Violet have bargained on, and when he chooses to stay to try and find out what's going on rather than flee, as the girls counted on, it throws a spanner in the works. Getting more suspicious by the minute, Ceaser kills the boss and his hangers on when they arrive, putting a huge target on his own back and thwarting Violet's many attempts to leave so she and Corky – who already has the money next door in her apartment – can run.

The tension rises as Ceaser, increasingly unhinged, gets not only closer to the truth but threatens to blow the whole thing, and eventually Corky has no choice but to jump in and try to extricate Violet by force.

The Maltese Falcon-esque plot is full of enough turns to keep you interested, and the cool, stylish direction by the Wachowskis reveals the visual pop that would come to stop the world with The Matrix. Even though the genres are completely different, Bound has something in common with their 1999 smash in that it very cleverly melded elements of aesthetic style with a very strong awareness of the motifs and mythologies the story emerged from.

It's what Evil Dead is to Sam Raimi, Sex, Lies and Videotape is to Steven Soderbergh and Sugarland Express is to Steven Spielberg – the beginning of a major talent before we even knew it.

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