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Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> April 2000 >> Bound


Movie Commentary by Scott Ventura


Scott's Rating:
5 / 5
Times Seen:
Viewing Date:
April 2000
IMDB Name:
Bound (1996)
Larry Wachowski
Andy Wachowski
crime, romance, suspense
MPAA Rating:
R for strong sexuality, violence and language.


Every once in a while, there is a movie that goes to extremes and causes the appropriate extremes of emotion in the audience. Bound is such a movie. It's a movie with so much going for it that you can get drunk just by watching it. It is a ride in one of those sports cars that knocks your breath out by its acceleration and then again by its cornering, and one more time by its braking. This first-time effort by The Wachowski Brothers is so spectacularly done that it draws gasps for the performances, the production values, the writing, the camera wrangling, the sound, the music, the violence, and the sex. In other words, this is what movies are all about.

Amongst Good People

The cast of Bound is packed with pleasant surprises. I've seen Jennifer Tilly in things like Liar Liar and Bullets Over Broadway, but those were fluff parts. Tilly's voice, which is high and breathy, makes it easier to dismiss her as a bimbo, but she plays Violet smart when she wants and simple when she wants. Her perceived intelligence is inversely proportional to the proximity of her boyfriend. I certainly remember Joe Pantoliano in The Matrix, The Wachowskis' second film. In Bound he gets to unwind and let out all the stops. His panic is outstanding. Gina Gershon drew her inspiration from great actors instead of emulating the popular stereotypes of lesbians. Her cool and bravado are a blast. Most of the smaller roles are filled just as well as the primaries. Richard C. Sarafian, Christopher Meloni, and John P. Ryan are excellent examples.

In Touch

Bound had the rare fortune of having a technical consultant whose specialty is sex. Susie Bright is famous as a writer, and her writing about her experience with the movie was my introduction to it a while ago. As the story goes, the Wachowskis contacted her to offer a cameo appearance. After reading the screenplay, she upped the ante and offered to be a sex consultant, filling in what the screenplay left out. The result is one of the steamiest scenes in mainstream cinema. I used to think Wild Things was the most amazingly sexy thing I'd seen on screen, but Bound's seduction leaves it in the dust. It's a small detail that the participants in the scene are both female compared to the intense sexuality of the characters.

In Sight

Bound is also a visually captivating film. The title sequence takes a similar tack to the one in Batman, but the shifting lighting adds an extra level of cool. As if that isn't enough, that's immediately followed by a bizarre descent through a closet that captures an incredible number of things in a single take. Bound's Director of Photography was Bill Pope, who seems happy to do crazy things with a shot. The Wachowskis are bursting at the seams with artistry, and Pope helps them bring it to the screen. There are shots that come from seemingly impossible angles and move through even more impossible camera trajectories. Other shots, like those involving the white paint covering a hardwood floor, are simply the result of a vivid imagination.

DVD Comments

The big bonus on the Bound DVD is the commentary track, lifted straight from the laserdisc. I'm confident of this because the speakers refer to laserdiscs repeatedly. It starts out with The Wachowskis, editor Zach Staenberg, and Susie Bright. They are joined a few minutes later by Joe Pantoliano, and eventually by Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon. When Tilly shows up, things take a turn for the sillier. She jumps right in and dominates for the rest of the film, as though making up for the time she missed. There are great moments where Bright, the only one in the room not in the movies as a job, asks the others to clarify some of their more vague comments.

The menus on Bound's DVD are surprisingly stark. The only customization that would identify the movie at all is the collection of still frames for the chapter menu. The Republic Pictures logo dominates every other screen. I would resent this more if it didn't clue me in to a little joke: the paint is Republic Paint and has the same eagle graphic. The chapter selector only shows nine chapters, even though the disc is split into thirty- three. Moving through the menus is easy except for the selection indicator, which doesn't provide nearly enough contrast to make it visible without first moving it.

Bound's DVD has two subtitle tracks, English and Spanish. The text often includes sound effects, and so is more like captioning than anything else. Subtitle tracks that make no attempt to translate or transcribe foreign languages are one of my pet peeves. When Gino is speaking in Italian, he's not saying anything so earth-shattering that subtitles are needed, but I'm annoyed that so much is glossed over. Even the simple question "capisce", which has entered common parlance from other sources, is reduced to a note like "[Italian]".

See the IMDB information on Bound's DVD or compare prices at DVD Price Search.

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Copyright 2000-2001 by Scott Ventura. All rights reserved.