Violet is a gangster's moll, living with Caesar, who launders money for the mob. Corky is a ex-con who has been hired to decorate the flat next door to Caesar's flat. When the two meet they slowly begin a love affair behind Caesar's back. After a while Violet comes up with a plan to steal mob money and frame Caesar for it while she and Corky make off with the cash. However, there is no such thing as a simple plan.
I saw this when it was released in the cinema where the overall view seemed to be of an enjoyable noir thriller with a lesbian twist. A few years later, the Matrix has made the Wachowski brothers hotter than hot and everyone is clambering all over Bound and building up it's status and pointing to it as a hint of greatness. Now, after two poor Matrix sequels, many will come back to this film as a sign of their ability before the dollars became more important. That's the impression I get anyway, from the message boards, reviews and comments from proper critics. However, I rewatched this and tried to meet it on it's own terms rather than be coloured.
Of itself, it does the business quite effectively as a noir crime thriller. The plot is tough and, although not all that twisty, does easily engage and keep the audience pretty gripped. The lesbian stuff is done a little cynically I think - where do you draw the line between stuff that is required for us to know that the two are lovers, and the stuff that is titillation? I don't know, the film does it all very tastefully and it is not the film's fault that some sections of the audience will come to this film because it has a lesbian love scene in it. I acknowledge that it was done quite sexily and was part of the film, but the crime is the focus.
The brothers direct with great style - set mainly in a couple of flats, the film moves slickly around the place. Some shoot outs do reveal a style that was later used in the Matrix films (albeit on a sci-fi level). The slow-mo stuff is pretty good here and not overly used - little tricks like the shooting over the white paint added to the style of the film no end. Despite being bogged down in a story I believe they took too seriously, I don't think they need to prove themselves as directors - their films speak for themselves in that regard, and I do hope they get back in the saddle.
The cast is deep in talent but mostly they play it in the stereotypical characters of the genre. Tilly is a great moll, at first she appears to be the delicate flower of the film, but she is as much a femme fatale as Corky. Gershon is very sexy, despite being very glamorous for a supposedly butch ex-con; she plays her role well although I would have liked to see her become more of a fall guy towards the end, in true noir fashion - fooled by love! Pantoliano is enjoyable; his character may not have a lot of meat on it but Joe does very well with a powerful performance. Support from Meloni and Ryan is good even if they all fit the gangster clichés required by the script.
Overall this is an enjoyable genre film - no more and no less. The lesbian stuff is a nice twist on the usual formula but it isn't pushed enough to be classed as exploitative (although there's no doubt that the film gained audience as a result of the love scenes). The cast are good and the direction is stylish, making for a slickly enjoyable noir.