19 August 2014

Blu-ray Review - Bound (1996)


Genre:
Crime, Drama,ThrillerCult
Distributor:
Arrow Video
Rating: 18
BD Release Date:
18th August 2014 (UK)
Director:
Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
cast:
Joe Pantoliano, Jennifer Tilly, Gina Gershon
Buy:Bound [Dual Format Blu-ray + DVD]

Bound was the directorial debut film by the Wachowskis, a few years before they changed the face of cinema forever with the first Matrix film. It remains one of the most impressive debut films of the 1990s. It’s also one of the most fascinating takes on neo-noir to come out after Quentin Tarantino’s early films during the ‘90s noir revival.

The rather rudimentary noir plot is about stealing a bunch of money from the mob. What makes it unique is that it’s about two lesbians, played by Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon. Jennifer Tilly is Violet, who is sick of her mobster boyfriend Caesar (Joe Pantoliano). Caesar also happens to have $2 million of the mob’s money, which he needs to return. Gershon plays Corky, an ex-con who is getting her first job outside of prison, fixing up Violet and Caesar’s next-door neighbour’s place. Violet and Corky soon start an affair and hatch the plan for a robbery.

The Wachowskis’ go to director of photography Bill Pope shot the film. It’s full of interesting angles, long takes, lighting and other touches that give it a very stylish look. Despite the obvious stylised nature of the film, it’s really the chemistry between the two leads that makes the film. They are very believable in their roles and have rarely been better in the parts they have played since then. In the supplementary material, both actresses say they consider it one of the highlights of their careers. The always-great Joe Pantoliano gives a performance that borders on being a leading role, which is rare considering his knack for character acting.

Like the Wachowskis’ other films, Bound wears its influences on its sleeve but never feels like it’s ripping something off. The directors borrow what they need from previous films, novels, comics, books etc. and create their own thing out of it. Its most obvious influence is the Coen Brothers’ debut film Blood Simple, but it’s more about stylistic similarities and both films being such assured, noir-inflected debut films.

As usual, Arrow has released what seems to be the definitive package for Bound. It includes the old commentary, it has a ton of new interviews with cast and crew which are all very good and insightful, and some old EPK featurettes along with more promotional material. It’s time for people who haven’t seen Bound before to discover it, and for those who already are fans to rediscover a somewhat forgotten gem of 90s neo-noir.

★★★★

Ian Schultz


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