Bound (1996)

Bound (1996), written, produced and directed by the Wachowskis.

Just out of prison for "wealth redistribution", Corky works as an apartment building superintendent. When she meets Mob girlfriend Violet the hormonal tension makes the air smoke between them. It's not even a question.

Turns out $2 million of embezzled Mob money will be in the building overnight. How about a cunning plan to get it and get out together? What could go wrong? Well, a lot. These guys keep garden shears handy for a reason. Adapt, improvise and survive and we may get to a happy ending.

This "neo-noir" erotic thriller is a worthy first feature film from the Wachowskis. While watching it I was thinking of a similarly impressive first effort from the Cohen brothers: Blood Simple (1984). The earlier film is moodier, more atmospheric. This one is compressed in time and space and more erotic.

The sexual content is mostly in the first part; after that the film turns pretty violent. Photographed by Bill Pope, the camera work and lighting are impressive given the limited budget and small locations.

According to the wikipedia article, they hired a feminist sex author to choreograph the lesbian sex scenes. Which is nice work if you can get it. One of those scenes had to be cut to get an R rating, due to certain complaints about "hand sex". It is not so much what is shown as the bucking, arch-backed enthusiasm of the characters.

(Aside: as I learned in the documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006), one of the things that will get you an NC-17 rating is too much sexual pleasure from a female character. Their example was The Cooler (2003) where Maria Bello shows just a flash of pubic hair, but in a context that was unacceptable: she was having too much fun and that bit had to go).

Great cast: Jennifer Tilly as a sex object no one suspects of having a brain, and Joe Pantoliano as her Mob boyfriend in the best work I have seen him do.

It is Gina Gershon who smolders, just smoking the role. This was her first role after the universally hated Showgirls (1995). And she was perhaps the best part of that film: as the fan on the commentary track pointed out, she seemed to be the only one who understood the trashy movie they were making and she made the most of it.

Available on Blu-ray from Olive Films. No subtitles, but both R and unrated versions are included. There are just a few seconds difference between them.