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Film / Bound (1996)

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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, arguably most people remember it for the lesbian sex scene.

No relation to the 2015 film of the same name.

This film provides examples of:

  • Badass Boast: Violet to Caesar as he holds her and Corky tied up at gunpoint.
    Caesar: What did she do to you?
    Violet: Everything you couldn't.
  • Bad Vibrations: There is a closeup of the toilet water throwing ripples before we cut to the other side of the wall where Shelly gets tortured by the mob.
  • Bait-and-Switch Accusation: Caesar is terrified when Mickey notices that the furniture in the apartment has moved. He is relieved when Mickey guesses this to be Violet's idea.
  • The Beard: Caesar is this unknowingly to his prostitute girlfriend Violet, who is a closeted lesbian.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Johnnie and later Caesar, both after receiving shots into knee/chest. Corky also bleeds from the side of her mouth after getting tied up and beaten by Caesar.
  • Blood Is Squicker in Water: In toilet water. And in white paint.
  • Bluffing the Authorities: Caesar kills three people in his apartment with his gun. Alerted by a neighbor, the police arrive at the scene shortly after to investigate. Caesar tricks them into believing that the shots came from the TV which he had on loud volume because of his (alleged) hearing impairment and the battery for his earpiece going flat. The officers believe his story and leave.
  • Body Motifs: Hands. The women make love with their hands, while the mafiosos cut off fingers.
  • Bound and Gagged: Given Lana Wachowski's S&M interests, this should come as little surprise. Corky and Violet are bound with rope and scarves and held captive at gunpoint by her jealous boyfriend Caesar.
  • Building of Adventure: Most of the action takes place within the building where Caesar and Violet live.
  • Butch Lesbian: Corky is more masculine than Violet. Gina Gershon modeled her performance on James Dean. She has very 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 and used by Corky to escape.
    • Johnnie's cellphone was used by him in order to "make a bet" and then by Violet to help Caesar in order to trick Mickey into thinking that Gino and Johnnie got into a car accident and they are currently in the hospital and make him leave the apartment and then again by Violet in the building's elevator when she was chased by Caesar, she called Mickey and said that he needs to return to the apartment as soon as possible.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Well, more like punching the scenery, but Caesar gets rather... demented towards the middle, especially when he's searching Johnnie's apartment.
  • *Click* Hello: This is how Caesar greets Corky in his apartment after the latter sneaked in to rescue Violet.
  • Color Motif: The apartments and characters have a green color scheme with some black and white, dashed with the red of blood and Violet's dress, but very little blue. The only real blue is in the uniforms of the policemen who represent the real world lying beyond the tight realm of the gangsters.
  • Concealing Canvas: Caesar looks behind all the paintings at Johnnie's place in the hope to find a safe with the money.
  • Conveniently Timed Distraction:
  • Cool Old Guy: Mickey. Cruelly efficient towards Shelly, compassionate towards Violet, and the one guy who scares Caesar shitless even after the latter killed Gino and Johnnie.
  • Defensive Failure: 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.
  • Desecrating the Dead: Caesar trash-talks Johnnie's corpse.
  • Disposing of a Body: Discussed. Caesar plans to dump the dead mobsters in a lake.
  • The Don: Gino's brother and Johnnie's uncle, Angelo Marzzone. He doesn't appear in person, but he was mentioned by Corky and Caesar.
  • Door Handle Scare: Mickey uses a Hairpin Lockpick to open the apartment door from the outside while Caesar and Violet are distracted inside. There are several close-ups on the door handle and how Mickey finally succeeds to unbolt it.
  • Dramatic Drop: Caesar lets the rope and plastic bags drop when he spots Violet talking on the phone.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: Caesar does this when pointing his gun at Johnnie.
  • Elevator Escape: After the Stairwell Chase down to the lobby, Violet escapes Caesar by taking the elevator up again.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Caesar vs. Johnnie. Caesar can't stand Johnnie because of his callous, hot-headed nature, while Johnnie thinks Caesar deserves to give him automatic respect because his father and uncle are powerful mafia men who run Chicago.
  • Face Cam: Used for the moment when Caesar is shocked to find out that the money is gone from his briefcase.
  • Fade to White: Caesar's death in the puddle of white paint transition to the epilogue via a fade to white.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Caesar. Violet already knew this, but Corky found this out the hard way.
  • Film Noir: It's a lesbian neo-noir film.
  • Fingore: During a scene of Mutilation Interrogation involving pruning shears.
  • First-Name Basis: Aside from the Marzzones, none of the other characters' last names are mentioned, except Mickey in the credits, as his last name is revealed to be Malnato.
  • Footprints of Muck: Invoked. Corky tricks Caesar by creating footsteps with her boots in paint but when he follows them she attacks him barefoot from behind.
  • Girls Behind Bars: The film invokes this trope by depicting Butch Lesbian Corky (Gina Gershon) as a former inmate.
  • Goofy Print Underwear: When Caesar dries the money with the hot iron, we find out that our tough gangster wears dotted shorts.
  • Hairpin Lockpick: Corky uses a pin she wears as an earring to pick open the suitcase and later the apartment door. Mickey manages to get himself into the apartment using the same technique.
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack: Caesar's heartbeat can be heard when Mickey prepares to unlock the briefcase.
  • Hot-Blooded: Johnnie, which is part of the reason Caesar hates him.
  • How We Got Here: The opening scene is actually from the middle of the plot — Corky Bound and Gagged in the closet. Then we revert back to how it all began.
  • I Kiss Your Hand: Johnnie kisses Violet's hand much to Caesar's dismay.
  • In Love with the Gangster's Girl: A lesbian ex-con falls in love with a mafioso's girl, and the girl reciprocates. Then they hatch a scheme to get rid of 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, Roy, both die in a quick death. Averted with Johnnie.
  • 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.
  • Jerkass: Johnnie, big time. He definitely takes advantage of being the son of a powerful mobster and constantly rubs it in everyone's faces, especially in Caesar's face. He also kicks Shelly while he lies unconscious on the bathroom floor.
  • Karma Houdini: Violet getting away with killing Caesar and stealing the money along with Corky.
  • Lady in Red: Femme Fatale Violet spends a good chunk of the film in a sexy red dress.
  • Lady Looks Like a Dude: Corky is apparently so masculine that Caesar mistakes her for a man in dim light, which isn't very believable given how she actually looks (albeit he saw her from the back at first).
  • 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 has long hair, a girlish manner much of the time and mostly wears nice dresses, is a lesbian who falls for Corky (who's very butch in comparison).
  • Longing Look: Violet throws looks at Corky during their first encounter in the elevator and corridor.
  • A MacGuffin Full of Money: The briefcase full of money.
  • The Mafia: Caesar is in it, and the girls try to drive a wedge between them as the crux of their con.
  • Masculine–Feminine Gay Couple: Corky is a leather jacket-wearing thief who now works as a contractor and gets mistaken for a man in dim light. Violet is a Femme Fatale. They become a couple.
  • Mirror Monologue: Downplayed. After her first sexual encounter with Violet, Corky asks herself in the bathroom mirror what she is doing.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Corky and Violet are both attractive in different ways. They have a long sex scene together, where both are seen topless.
  • 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" Remark: 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.
  • The Oner: The main sex scene was filmed in one long shot, as The Wachowskis believed that the continuous shot would be more realistic than several shots edited together.
  • One-Word Title
  • Outlaw Couple: A lesbian version; a female ex-con hooks up with a gangster's girlfriend.
  • Phoney Call: Caesar gets a call from Violet and pretends it's Gino Marzzone letting him know that he got into an accident.
  • Pizza Boy Special Delivery: The plumber version is invoked when Violet asks Corky to help her get the earing from the drainpipe. Seduction ensues.
  • Point of No Return: Corky mentions during the Unfolding Plan Montage that after she places the paperweight into the suitcase, there is no turning back.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Caesar 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 Caesar.
    "You don't want to shoot me, Vi, do you? Do you? You won't shoot me."
    " Caesar, you don't know shit."
  • Preserve Your Gays: 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.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Caesar, tipping his gun against Corky's chin: "Where ... is ... my ... money?"
  • Queer Flowers: The main character is a lesbian and named Violet.
  • Queer Romance: Closeted lesbian prostitute and mob moll Violet is drawn to ex-con Corky. They get involved while hatching a scheme to rob $2 million from the Mafia.
  • The Quiet One: Gino and Mickey's security guards, Roy and Lou.
  • Ransacked Room: We see the aftermath of Caesar turning Johnnie's apartment upside down in his search for the money.
  • Riding into the Sunset: Violet and Corky drive off with the loot to begin a new life.
  • Right Through the Wall: Corky hears Violet and Shelly having sex due to the apartment's thin walls, as well as Ceasar having sex with Violet.
  • Separated by the Wall: With Corky and Violet in adjacent apartments.
  • Short-Distance Phone Call: Played for drama when Caesar calls the last number Violet dialed and hears the phone ringing next door.
  • 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's and Corky's caper works out as planned until Caesar comes up with his idea to follow Johnnie and take Violet with him.
  • Stairwell Chase: Caesar chases after Violet down the building's staircase.
  • Starting a New Life: Violet and Corky in the end.
  • 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. She's a butch lesbian and ex-con.
  • The Ghost: Mr. Bianchini, who is Corky's employer and the manager of the apartment complex where most of the action takes place.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: A classic Lipstick Lesbian and Butch Lesbian pairing.
  • Tomboyish Name: Corky, a typical male name, given to a Butch Lesbian.
  • Unfolding Plan Montage: While Corky 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, as well as Corky after the kick to the chin.
  • What Are You in For?: Ceasar has no qualms asking Corky that question on their first encounter. She doesn't give him an answer but later reveals to Vi that she did those five years for burglary.
  • Where Everybody Knows Your Flame: Early on, Corky visits a lesbian bar, which establishes her orientation (you know, assuming anybody didn't already guess).
  • White Shirt of Death: Caesar in his white shirt 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 tagline 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 and find the money while Violet and Corky madly scramble to steer him in the right direction in order to make him skip town. Caesar turns out to be much smarter than they'd anticipated.
  • You Wouldn't Shoot Me: At the end, Violet has a gun on Caesar:
    Caesar: You don't want to shoot me, Vi.... Do you? Do you? I know you don't.
    Violet: Caesar, you don't know shit. (Shoots him.)