Film: Bound

Bound is a 1996 independent crime thriller directed by the Wachowskis. It is about Violet (Jennifer Tilly), a closeted lesbian prostitute and mob moll who longs to escape her relationship with mob money-launderer Caesar (Joe Pantoliano). When she meets ex-con Corky (Gina Gershon) hired to renovate the next-door apartment, the two women hatch a scheme to steal $2 million of Mafia money. Though the film was a strong freshman effort by the Wachowskis and a terrifically tense thriller, most people only remember it for the lesbian sex scene.


This film provides examples of:

  • Bleed 'em and Weep: Subverted. The feminine Violet seems reluctant to shoot Caesar. He tries to talk her down in a most patronizing manner, telling her that she does not have the resolve nor the will to fire the gun. Violet does fire, but not before delivering a calm and collected Pre-Asskicking One-Liner. And she doesn't feel any remorse afterwards.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Johnny and later Caesar, both after receiving shots into knee/chest.
  • Blood Is Squicker in Water: In toilet water.
  • Body Motifs: Hands.
  • Bound and Gagged: Given Lana Wachowski's S&M interests, this should come as little surprise.
  • Bury Your Gays: Not just averted, by outright inverted, as Violet and Corky are just about the only major characters still alive at the end, and they get to drive off into the sunset with the money.
  • Butch Lesbian: Corky is more masculine than Violet. Gina Gershon modeled her performance on James Dean. She wears short hair and masculine attire similar to a 50s greaser. The character was probably intended to look more "butch" than she ended up, judging by the scene where Caesar mistakes her for a man in dim light.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: The pruning shears. First used on Shelly, then tried again on Violet.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Well, more like punching the scenery, but Ceaser gets rather...demented towards the middle, especially when he's searching Johnny's apartment.
  • Cool Old Guy: Micky. Cruelly efficient towards Shelly, compassionate towards Violet, and the one guy who scares Caesar shitless even after the latter killed Gino.
  • Defensive Failure: Subverted, when Violet has Caesar at gunpoint. He senses this trope to happen and starts a You Wouldn't Shoot Me, yet Violet doesn't falter and goes through with her plan.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: Caesar does this when pointing his gun at Johnny.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Of the named characters in the film, only Gino doesn't, at some point, express an interest in Violet.
  • Femme Fatale: Violet.
  • Film Noir: It's a lesbian neo-noir film.
  • Fingore: During a scene of Mutilation Interrogation involving pruning shears.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Corky.
  • Girls Behind Bars: The film invokes this trope by depicting Butch Lesbian Corky (Gina Gershon) as a former inmate.
  • Hairpin Lockpick: Corky uses a pin she wears as an earing to pick open the suitcase and later the apartment door. Micky manages to get himself into the apartment using the same technique.
  • How We Got Here: The opening scene is actually from the middle of the plot — Corky Bound and Gagged in the wardrobe. Then we revert back to how it all began.
  • In Love with the Gangster's Girl: It's is a Gender Flip version, or half of one. A lesbian ex-con falls in love with a mafioso's girl, and the girl reciprocates. Then they hatch a scheme to get rid off him, which ends up backfiring on them when he proves to be far more resourceful than either of them anticipated.
  • Instant Death Bullet: Gino and his security guard die a quick death. Averted with Johnny.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: Violet and Corky are pleasuring each other on the couch when Caesar bursts in.
  • Intertwined Fingers: Corky and Violet's final scene together—an especially nice touch considering what other things happened to fingers in this movie.
  • Karma Houdini: Violet getting away with killing Caesar.
  • Lady in Red: Femme Fatale Violet spends a good chunk of the film in a sexy red dress.
  • Left the Background Music On: Dramatic music builds steadily with the onscreen approach of the antagonist until the old b/w detective movie on the television is switched off, taking the music with it.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Violet, who looks and behaves in a traditionally feminine manner, in contrast to Corky.
  • The Mafia
  • MacGuffin: The money.
  • Multiple Gunshot Death: Violet empties a clip on Caesar after he unsuccessfully tried a You Wouldn't Shoot Me.
  • Mutilation Interrogation: A mobster steals a couple of million dollars from his employers. Despite a savage beating, he refuses to tell them where he's hidden it. Then one of the mobsters produces pruning shears, holds the guy's hands over a toilet bowl, and says: "I'm going to ask you ten times."
  • Not So Different: A major theme. In fact it's spelled out in the last line in the movie.
    Corky: You know what the difference is between you and me, Violet?
    Violet: No.
    Corky: Me neither.
  • One-Word Title
  • Outlaw Couple: Another lesbian version; a female ex-con hooks up with a gangster's girlfriend.
  • Plethora of Mistakes: On both sides of the scam.
  • Point of No Return: Corky mentions during the Unfolding Plan Montage that after she places the paper weight into the suitcase there is no turning back.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Caeser refers to Corky as a dyke and comments that 'her kind can't be trusted.'
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: When Violet has a gun aimed at her abusive ex.
    "Put the gun down, Violet. I know you. You won't shoot me."
    "Caesar, you don't know shit."
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Caesar, tipping his gun against Corky's chin: "Where ... is ... my ... money?"
  • Riding into the Sunset: Violet and Corky drive off with the loot to begin a new life.
  • Separated by the Wall: With Corky and Violet in adjacent apartments.
  • Shown Their Work: The Wachowskis had Susie Bright advise them on lesbian sex and culture.
  • Sleeves Are for Wimps: Gina Gershon as Corky consistently wears tank tops.
  • Spanner in the Works: Violet and Corky's caper works out as planned until Caesar comes up with his idea to follow Johnny and take Violet with him.
  • Swirlie: Shelly gets a toilette waterboarding treatment.
  • Tap on the Head: Caesar knocks Violet out with the butt of his gun. Corky goes out after a kick to the chin from Caesar.
  • Tattooed Crook: Corky sports a labrys, a symbol of lesbianism and feminine strength.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: A classic Lipstick Lesbian and Butch Lesbian pairing.
  • Unfolding Plan Montage: While Corky's explains the details of the plan, we see a montage of how events are playing out.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: The plan had to fail thanks to Corky laying out the details involving an Unfolding Plan Montage.
  • Water Wake-up: Caesar uses this technique to wake up Violet after the Tap on the Head.
  • White Shirt of Death: While standing in a room-wide puddle of pure white paint, to boot.
  • Who's Laughing Now?: Caesar both plays the trope straight and says the tag line almost verbatim. He also gets... rather animated while doing so.
    Caesar: I'm a dead man, Johnnie? I'm a fucking dead man? Guess again, Johnnie. Who's the dead man? Who? Who's dead, fuckface? Who? Who? I can't hear you, Johnnie. Guess again. Take another guess, Johnnie. Take another fucking guess!"
  • Window Love: Violet and Corky do the opaque-barrier version, putting their hands on the dividing wall between them.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Caesar. Both Violet and Corky have to learn that.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Caesar is madly scrambling to outwit his perceived enemy while Violet and Corky madly scramble to steer him in the right direction. Caeser turns out to be much smarter than they'd anticipated, but not smart enough.
  • You Wouldn't Shoot Me: At the end, Violet has a gun on Caesar:
    Caesar: You don't want to shoot me, Vi.... I know you don't.
    Violet: Caesar, you don't know shit. (Shoots him.)
  • Yuri Genre