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1996 - R - 108 Mins.
Director: The Wachowski Brothers
Producer: Andy Lazar
Written By: The Wachowski Brothers
Starring: Jennifer Tilly, Gina Gershon, Joe Pantoliano, John P. Ryan, Mary Mara
Review by: John Ulmer

Check out my Daffy Duck impersonation: Quack! Quack!
Like "Fargo" or "A Simple Plan," "Bound" is a crime thriller about a seemingly slight enough idea that soon escalates into an unexpected predicament involving death and guilt. It essentially concerns the story of Corky (Gina Gershon), a lesbian plumber, and Violet (Jennifer Tilley), her newfound lover, and their plan to rip off two million dollars from the local Mafia.

Violet lives with her Mobster boyfriend Cesar (Joe Pantoliano) in an upscale apartment. Violet is a whiny, unfaithful woman--she sleeps with other men (and apparently women) behind Cesar's back and complains because he's never there for her. When she first meets Corky, she practically throws herself upon the woman, enticing her into the apartment with the good ol' "My ring fell down the pipes" lie.

Corky, who is newly released from prison, falls for Violet, too. The two have a brief affair before they decide to rip off $2 million dollars from the Mob. It's a simple enough plan: steal the money from Cesar and blame the crime on someone else.

Cesar's cash belongs to the Mafia, and he is about to hand it over to a Mafia don when it disappears from his briefcase. Corky and Violet blame the crime on a gangster, hoping that Cesar will decide to run out of fear. But their plan completely falls apart when Cesar chooses to face his enemy and demand the money. The catch is, of course, that Violet--who tags along with Cesar through his worrisome adventures--knows exactly who took the money and where it is. She begins to feel guilty, and when dead bodies accumulate in Cesar's apartment, she must decide whether or not to reveal the truth behind the crime.

After being under whelmed and truly disappointed in the Wachowski Brothers' "Matrix" trilogy, "Bound" came as a great surprise--not only is it one of the best films of the decade, but it is also one of the most stylish and unique. And the Wachowskis did not invent bullet time in "The Matrix"--there's a scene in "Bound" where Cesar opens fire on some Mafia figures and everything seems to slow down. But it's more cleverly done than "The Matrix," because Cesar doesn't hurl himself through the air and do nifty moves. Everything seems to just slow down to a halt. It's much more effective than the bullet time that has become synonymous with "The Matrix."

There are many different camera techniques used in "Bound" that would have made Orson Welles delighted if he had lived to see them used (he is often credited for pioneering some of the more famous techniques, right down to modern-day dissolves, in "Citizen Kane"). I especially liked one that followed some telephone wires through a wall and out the other side.

It starts out as a romance film, shifts into a crime caper, and then turns into a film noir. It's a great blend of many different genres.

The acting is just as good. Gina Gershon is entirely believable in her role. She's tough, rough, and brutal. She's also very smart.

"Where is my money?" Cesar asks her.

"Next door. I stuffed the bills into paint cans."

Cesar realizes that he no longer needs her and is about to shoot her.

"You can't kill me," Corky tells him.

"Why not?"

"Because I could be lying."

But, as always, Joe Pantoliano is the real scene-stealer. This is also one of his most terrific performances. Once Cesar realizes his money is gone, everything inside him suddenly collapses. We can see it in his eyes. He starts yelling and screaming and he can't think straight. He works himself up into an extreme panic, while Violet watches with some strange sensation of remorse in her soul.

"Bound" is at its best when it's successfully combining many different genres and having fun building up tension. It's simply one of the most effective films of the last decade, and will surely be remembered for quite some time. Its clever, twisting script and raw performances aside, "Bound" is also a unique film experience--a blend of film noir, a dash of lesbian eroticism, a pinch of crime, and a bundle of unique camera techniques.

"Bound" is one of those movies where you're on the edge of your seat as events start to add up, piling on top of each other, ready to tumble over any minute. There's a scene where two policemen enter Cesar's apartment and one of the men asks him to use the bathroom--where the dead bodies have been hidden in the bathtub. "Sure," Cesar says, and we see the cop enter into the lavatory. We wait in silence, anticipating what will happen, fearing that the scene will turn into a shoot-out and something bad will happen.

It's the tense stuff such as this that keeps the viewer completely absorbed in "Bound's" twists and turns. I loved this movie, and I will always consider it better than the Wachowskis' other efforts thus far. What a surprisingly delightful movie.
Movie Guru Rating
An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant.
  4.5 out of 5 stars

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