Continuing my crusade to analyse every film on Queer Screen’s list of Top 25 Queer Films Of All Time, this time it’s number 21, Bound.
As well as being almost completely nonsensical when it comes to the wlw relationship element of this film, Bound (1996) directed by the Wachowskis, who have since come out as trans women, is a chaotic affair of sex, violence and revenge.
The film centres around the relationship between Corky, an ex-con renovating a luxury condo, and Violet, the next-door neighbour who seduces Corky. Together they hatch a plan to get rid of Violet’s mobster boyfriend Caeser and abscond with over $2m in mob money.
Not only is the film in some parts nonsense, it’s also convoluted to the point of being almost unwatchable. Because it’s over twenty years old, the lighting made it difficult for me to focus and the pacing made the film boring, so just watching it was a challenge. Added to that, the conversations between Violet and Corky, which eventuate into or come on the tail end of sex scenes, don’t do much in terms of advancing the plot, and since Violet is so secretive and manipulative, and Corky so closed off, don’t do much to show character either. The love story between them is poorly written and besides physical chemistry the only thing that makes sense for them to want to kill and die for each other is that Corky has a saviour complex and Violet needs to be saved—at first from her relationship, and then literally as Caeser tortures her to get Corky to give up where the money is.
There’s really nothing in the film that shows why Corky would risk everything to be with Violet, and there’s nothing to say that once Violet has the money she’s not just going to leave Corky. I love Violet when she is talking to Caeser towards the tail end of the movie, when she is finally able to speak freely (Caeser comments on this, saying that she’s not the Violet he knows), but she’s so manipulative throughout the rest of the movie it’s hard to trust that she won’t screw Corky over, considering she is manipulating Corky to begin with.
That aside, I like Violet, even if her air of mystery can be attributed more to bad rather than intentional writing. Complicated female characters are interesting, and we need more of them. The other film on this list I’ve analysed already that is centred around queer women is Desert Hearts, which also includes complicated women, one of whom is bisexual like Violet and has just come out of a divorce with her husband. The difference is that Desert Hearts is a sombre look at the way identity can change over a person’s life, and how we can come to view ourselves differently after significant life events, or leading up to significant life events, and Bound titilates with boob tats and Gina Gershon’s perpetually open mouth.
A point I wanted to raise was that this film is a product of its time in that it doesn’t know that bisexuals exist. Corky disparages Violet for having sex with a man, and Violet says “I don’t have sex with men,” that that was “work”. It’s fine to have sex with men AND women! I can’t believe we’re only having this conversation this decade.
But to this film’s credit, it is an interesting story. It presents two complicated and interesting women, puts them in a dangerous situation, and lets them triumph over the stupid men in their lives. No dead lesbians! A happy ending! Tasteful sex scenes that were done with a sex consultant, Susie Bright! I wouldn’t watch this movie again, mostly because of all the torturing queer women, but it was fun the first time. I would hazard a guess that the reason it’s on this list is because it’s a genre film, and most movies about queer women are dramas or period dramas. At least this movie adds a little flair to the genre, so I’m giving it points for that.
Find my other reviews of the top 25 queer films here.