Review: Bound (1996)

Bound (1996) Bound (1996)

A sexy, hilarious, noir of a time.

I’ve heard two bits of trivia about this film, which I’ve not found the sources for at the time of writing. Their veracity isn’t as interesting as what they highlight about the film:

  • the Wachowskis initially pitched The Matrix, but the studio wanted to see what they could do with a smaller budget first – so they returned with their pitch for Bound
  • in an astronomical display of missing the entire point, one of the studio’s notes in response to the pitch for Bound was that the character of Corky (Gina Gershon) should be a man

From the beautifully-realised noir aesthetic, to the visual economy of the storytelling, to the super fun performances from all three leads, Bound is an incredible debut from a pair of gifted filmmakers – and is a great time to boot.

It’s a simple premise, realised perfectly: “What if The Maltese Falcon or Gilda, but the other man was a woman?” It’s precisely because it follows the Film Noir playbook, beat for beat – until, of course, it doesn’t – that its single twist works as well as it does. The genre is as much about its type of story as it is about its visual style, and by leaning so heavily into the template, the Wachowskis get to show off every film-making trick in their kit. And then, of course, this allows them, together with the same key crew, to invent a whole new visual playbook of their own with their little-known follow-up film

Further Viewing

Bound just goes to show that you don’t need to sacrifice the thrills of a genre film to include women and LGBTQ people in your story”: Now You See It celebrates The Greatest Lesbian Gangster Heist Movie Ever Made:

To help better understand the trope Bound subverts, The Take explains the Femme Fatale: