Bound is a real interesting piece of art. It is a clear genre piece. It is film noir. But also neo noir as it breaks the mould. Deconstructs the genre. It elevates itself by breaking genre conventions, making them stand on their head .It breaks the mould a bit from conventions in terms of the femme fatale archetype being reused here for a different purpose.
Lesbians have been dealt a pretty rough hand by Hollywood. Depicted as manipulative and devious in films like Basic Instinct, the femme fatale in that one was just an updated version., seemingly meant to accomodate modern viewers, but it failed in one particual aspect; treating the archetype as just the same. It was nothing new or groundbreaking. It just came out as mean spirited towards the lesbian or bisexual community.
But a few years later came Bound.
The brainchild of Andy and Larry (later to become Lana) Wachowski, they crafted a clever genre piece to stand conventions on their head in a smart and new way especially dealing with the femme fatale. Making the new modern version of the femme fatale that Basic Instinct never could or was smart enough to conceive.
Corky (Gina Gershon) is just out of jail and in an elevator she comes across her new neighbour Violet (Jennifer Tilly) a gangsters moll who then proceeds seducing Corky to concoct a scheme to steal money from Violets husband Ceasar (Joe Pantoliano) and run away from him.
Stuff to talk about:
At my newest viewing I feel Bound might be the most progressive, at least at the time, deptiction of lesbians. They are not portrayed as evil, Having girl-to-girl sex is not shameful, the film revels in the scenes like it should. It is okey for girls to have sexual experiences with each other if they so please. It never feels exploitative. In fact I get the feeling the scenes are liberating more than anything. And as they are only a small part of the movie in the beginning it sets up these two women as unapologetically attracted to each other. They are not portrayed as decadent. Just two women really liking each other.
Lines like: " I am not apologizing to what I did to you. I am apologizing to what I did not do to you" after being abrupted by Violets husband Ceasar. If that is not unapologetic towards her sexuality I do not know what is.
But it is also about a women trying to free herself from a male oriented world. Violet, as the typical femme fatale is the real hero, or protagonist here. She is the more resourceful character of the two. Corky spends a large time behind the scenes waiting to see how things are played out.
I think Bound plays a lot of genre conventions and expectations. Tweaking the femme fatale character into a more likeable character by presenting us with the despicable world she is trapped within and the incredibly possessive nature of Ceasar makes the viewer feel empathy for her. It is not like in The Last Seduction, another great 90´s neo noir classic, that shows instead how fucking lame and dumb the male lead is,getting snared into the sexy smart ladys trap. It was a great neo noir and deconstruction. But I think this one is perhaps more relevant.
And though the "lesbian couple" are indeed manipulative, as Basic Instinct "taught " us about lesbians, they are clearly the less of evils here. The macho bullshit patriarchy of the Mob is confronted here. nd we are presnted with two much more likeable characters as opposed to the others.
Violet the femme fetale. Dressed in black, with black hair, is the one who sets everything up. Seduces Corky into her world. She motivates Corky. Corky is also the "masculine" female, the male equilaent of this movie. With tattoos and attitudes she is different from Violet. But they like leather jackets both.Good to have things in common.
Here is their introduction. It is cinematic as fuck.Words are not needed:
And here we see "masculine" Corky in a male tank top (wife beater shirt):
The person who thinks lesbian living being deviant or sickening is the alphamale part of a patriarchal socirty in which deviant sexual orientations are not even on the map. Ceasar., the possessive fuck who will not let Violet out of his sight. And maybe that is why he is so surprised at the revelation? What a dumbass.
Here we are presented with a different depiction and attitude towards the femme fatale archetype rather than the victims of her actions. The dumbass in this one is caught up in a macho bullshit discourse and as a result he is helpless to counter it until it is too late. Not the one trapped in the web of a treacheous woman, really. He only has himself to blame. Which is what also the previously mentioned neo noir classic The Last Seduction taught us.
Bound is a real fucking great movie. Twenty years on this year. it still remains a piece of my heart as a thrilling ,suspenseful genre movie. But also deals in sexual politics in more clever ways than most people would expect which make sthis movie even more relevant and intelligent. If people just could see past the tits....
This is one of the great ones in my opinion. One that is both subversive but also a helluva lot of fun. Blue is the warmest color is apparantly a great movie depicting the topic but here we have an entertainng genre piece that deals with similir topics, is subversive and it totally works. Which is the winner here?