Bound - Blu-ray Review

 'A fresh and enticing twist on the noir formula'.

Based solely upon Bound's opening act, you'd be forgiven for thinking that what you're watching is something only a notch or two above softcore porn. The Wachowskis (formerly the Wachowski Brothers, as they were known at the time of Bound's release) mix some rather clunky dialogue and stilted performances with a generous helping of steamy softcore lesbian sex scenes. It's the kind of thing you might have expected to stumble upon late at night on Channel 5 before they got hold of Big Brother.

Reflecting on the film as a whole after watching, it's also difficult to ascertain whether the Wachowskis begin matters in such a cheesy, underwhelming fashion on purpose - a false opening, perhaps, to throw the audience off the scent of what's to come - or whether they were genuinely unsure of how to open their debut feature. Either way, it makes much of what Bound has to offer once the central plot gets going a genuinely pleasant surprise. What the Wachowskis achieve following this unconvincing beginning is a tightly wound and brilliantly crafted neo-noir. The siblings take influence from the likes of the Coen Brothers' Blood Simple as well as Tarantino's early work - especially in their brutal and visually striking use of violence - and Bound is all the better for it.

The film's set-up is simple, but allows for a gripping story to unfold in a fashion both easy to follow but undeniably intricate and well-written. The same-sex relationship between Violet (Jennifer Tilly) and Corky (Gina Gershon) provides a fresh and enticing twist on the noir formula, continually inviting the question of who we consider the femme fatale within the narrative, whether it is a shared role passed back and forth, or if indeed either should be considered as a fatale character at all. Whilst Tilly and Gershon recover pleasingly from their somewhat iffy performances during the opening act, it is Joe Pantoliano as Violet's mafioso boyfriend Caesar who arguably puts in the most memorable turn here. Pantoliano builds from a relatively modest beginning to deliver a performance shot through with feverish energy and an unsettlingly vicious streak.

The co-writers and directors' decision to rarely move the action from a single apartment block works well, creating an intimate and at times claustrophobic atmosphere and allowing the action to unfold with the dramatic cohesion of a play. Whilst never quite as bold as the revolutionary cinematic craft seen in The Matrix, irrefutably the Wachowskis' defining film that would follow three years after the release of Bound, the creative touches to be found throughout their inaugural film ensure it remains a crisp and smart piece of cinema today.

Bound was released on UK Blu-ray and DVD on Monday 18th August.

By Ben Broadribb. Ben is a regular contributor to Film Intel, having previously written at Some Like It Hot Fuzz. He is normally seen in the wild wearing t-shirts containing obscure film references. He is a geek, often unashamedly so. He's also on and Twitter.

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