It’s Movie Time: Bound (1996)

As always, Spoiler Alert.

Y’know when you ask someone for a movie recommendation, and they suggest something that, when you watch it, seems so unlike them it kinda makes you look at them in a different way?

That’s what happened with Bound.

I’d asked one of my brothers for movie suggestions and, while I can’t say what I expected, I can safely say Bound wasn’t it. The movies we’d watched together while I was growing up had mostly been action-y in nature, something which Bound is very much not. I remember him saying he liked it because it’s got a small cast and the story takes place in one building.

Once I watched it, I had to agree with him. There’s an appealing intimacy to both the story and the setting. Watching Bound feels like watching a play.

In it, Gina Gershon plays Corky, an ex-con who’s been given a job renovating an apartment for the mob. Living in the apartment next door, on the other side of a very thin wall, is Violet (Jennifer Tilly) and her mobster husband Caesar (Joe Pantoliano). Corky and Violet begin an affair and, when Caesar brings home $2 million of mob money to, quite literally, launder – it’s covered in blood – they decide to steal it and frame him.

There are a few other characters, mobsters mostly, but they’re secondary players, serving to nudge the story along and motivate Caesar’s decisions. The real story is the heist, and how Corky and Violet adapt and maneuver when Caesar doesn’t do what they expect him to do. It’s fascinating to watch all three of them work out their next moves.

It’s a shame that Bound isn’t more well known. It might have been a victim, at least in part, of its own marketing – the trailer features an out-of-place voiceover, and jaunty music at odds with the film’s actual style. And it’s true that a neo-noir mobster heist film sounds pretty niche, which could have narrowed its audience.

However, Bound is the first movie written and directed by the Wachowskis. Their following film, The Matrix, was, of course, a huge hit. (It’s also one of my favourites.) And while the two movies may be about as different as you can get in terms of scale, there are more similarities between them than one might think. They’re both heavily character driven, stylish films with multi-layered stories in which queer themes abound.

The Wachowskis have said Bound is about “the boxes people make of their lives.” Seeing it again, this time with the memory of why I watched it in the first place firmly in mind, it felt like that theme was spilling over into my real life. I had, after all, put my brother in a box all those years ago, and because of that I’d been surprised that he’d like ‘this kind of movie.’ (Whatever that means … ) I have no doubt that learning something new about him is a part of the reason I enjoyed Bound so much.

But even without such a personal connection, it’s still a great movie all on its own, and definitely worth a watch.

To see other posts in my venture to watch my movie collection in alphabetical(ish) order, click here.

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