The Lesbian Movie Marathon, Bound (1996)

Directed by Larry and Lana Wachowski

Bound is one of my absolute favourite lesbian movies, so this review will contain little in the way of objectivity.

Corky (Gina Gershon) is a butch lesbian ex-con hired to redecorate an apartment in a building where she meets Violet (Jennifer Tilly), the glamorous girlfriend of mobster Caesar (Joe Pantolioano).  The two women begin a passionate affair and come up with a plot to do the mafia out of the $2,000,000 that Caesar is supposed to be keeping safe until his boss Gino comes to collect.  As you might expect, nothing goes quite according to plan and the tension underlying the story centres on the issue of trust.  Can Corky and Violet trust each other enough to pull this off and get away with the money?

I love it! I love the clever homage to film noir and gangster movies.  I love the fact that it’s a good thriller as well as a hot lesbian romance.  I love the tight, well-written script and the black humour.  I love Jennifer Tilly’s fantastic performance as the femme, gangster moll who’s tired of her work and ready for a real relationship.  I even love Gina Gershon, who really can’t act for shit (she does that acting with facial expressions thing), but somehow manages to be touching and believable as Corky.  I love the fact that this film takes its lesbian characters seriously and is not nervous about representing lesbian desire.

It’s packed full of hot scenes.  The scene in which Corky and Violet first see each other in the lift – hot.  The scene in which Corky walks into a lesbian bar with Aretha Franklin’s ‘I never loved a man the way that I love you’ playing in the background – HOT.  The scene in which Violet seduces Corky – SCORCHING.  The scene in which Corky and Violet have sex …  Well, in fact the film is quite restrained about the sex.  There is only one sex scene, but it’s a very good one.  The Wachowskis were smart enough to get Susie Bright to script the scene and, as a result, we finally have a representation of lesbian sex that looks like real lesbian sex – sweat, dirty sheets etc.  It’s not romanticised for lesbians and neither does it pander to the heterosexual viewer.

I think that having a queer director at the helm (since Bound was released Lana Wachowski has transitioned and is in a lesbian relationship) helped hugely, as the film demonstrates a lot of understanding of queer desire and communication.   When I first saw Bound I thought it might open the way to a better standard of mainstream lesbian film, but this really hasn’t happened as mainstream filmmakers have continued to fall back on the romantic comedy, when they’re not making psycho-lesbian thriller type movies.  It’s a shame and I now suspect that it’ll be a few years yet before the promise contained in Bound is fully realised.

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6 thoughts on “The Lesbian Movie Marathon, Bound (1996)

  1. The seduction scene is the hottest I have ever scene. After seeing all those Claire of the Moon ridiculous scenes, it is beyond refreshing.
    Corky is a no compromise butch, something you don’t see often.
    I guess I’m not objective and I don’t care. I adore this movie, it comes second only to Desert Hearts and just a little before Tipping The Velvet.

  2. Corky is a no compromise butch, something you don’t see often.

    Absolutely, you hardly ever see butch lesbians represented unapologetically in film. I think Gina Gershon pulls it off because she has a lot of charisma and presence.

  3. Though Gershon’s appearance and character in the film were butch, she’s still an actress who conforms to male heterosexual attractiveness norms – her previous film was Showgirls!

    Basically, I think Bound works so well because it was able to accommodate both a lesbian audience and a hetero one, without alienating either. I don’t think there are many actresses that could walk that line as well as Gershon.

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