18th Aug2014

‘Bound’ Blu-ray Review (Arrow Video)

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Gina Gershon, Jennifer Tilly, Joe Pantoliano, John P. Ryan, Christopher Meloni, Richard C. Sarafian, Mary Mara, Susie Bright | Written and Directed by The Wachowski Brothers


Watching Bound you can’t help but be impressed with its style and understand why people cite its importance to the Matrix movies which were the Wachowski next movies to work on.  Then you realise that this was their first movie and see just why it is so impressive and brave.  Bound is a modern noir that takes two female leads and puts them in the place of power and most importantly a realistic love affair.  This may sound nothing surprising now, but at the time it had never been done in this style, especially by two writer/directors who wanted to make an impact in Hollywood.  Now that it’s getting the Arrow Video treatment, it’s time for Bound to get the attention it definitely deserves.

Corky (Gina Gershon) is a female ex con who is given a job redecorating an apartment next door to Violet (Jennifer Tilly) and Caesar (Joe Pantoliano) a money launderer for the mob.  It’s not long before Corky and Violet fall in love, and with a plan to leave the violent world of Caesar they put together a plan to steal mob money and pin the blame on him.

Bound is a story about power and control, in love and in the actions of the characters.  In the hand of the Wachowski Brothers they work against expected conventions and in the violent world of the mob our perspective is skewed so that the female leads have the power not only through manipulation but also love and power.  This is a very positive move, especially as the movie ages, though even watching it now it is not a victim of time at all, though does have the nineties feel all over it.  The most surprising aspect is when Caesar finally does show a certain amount of power, a man who came across as quite idiotic shows some smarts, though in doing so becomes part of a triangle of struggle where Corky and Violet have the edge.  The mob are a constant and real danger but always in the background, they are more the world that Corky, Violet and Caesar are a part of, and a menace that can be used as a manipulative tool.

Bound is a movie that in many ways is a master class of how to make a lot in a minimalist style.  There are a small number of locations, most is made out of the environment as possible and a feel of claustrophobic tension is ever-present because of the way the world of Corky, Caesar and Violet feels so small and intimately close.  There is no surprise that the commentary track for the film and Arrows special features give a lot of focus to the cinematography of Bill Pope and editing of Zach Staenberg because of their importance to the overall feel and style of the film.  The Wachowski Brothers are the true masters of the film though fighting for their vision which they put to screen, which has become so iconic to those who love the movie.

It comes as no surprise when you hear in the documentaries included on this Arrow Video release that Bound is one of the most loved films in Lesbian cinema, and this is because the relationship between Corky and Violet is never seen as anything other than a relationship between two loving people.  This isn’t a film that wants to take the soft-core porn approach to the love of these two women, though sex scenes are present it is shown to build the relationship between the two.  What Bound does is works on the amazing chemistry between Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly and create a story of love and intensity.  Yes, it is very erotic and there is a lot of imagery in relation to the two women’s sexual attraction to each other but this is never done in a way to be exploitative towards them.  This is where Bound wins out and becomes so memorable and rightly so too.

As always Arrow Video have done excellent work with the release and the picture quality is high quality.  The special features include interviews with some of the cast (including Gershon, Tilly and Pantoliano) and people from behind the scenes but no Wachowski Brothers which is a shame, though they are part of the commentary.  Not only a must buy for fans of Bound, this is a movie that fans of the art should enjoy too.

***** 5/5

Bound is available in on dual format DVD and Blu-ray now from Arrow Video.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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