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Review Bound (1996)


“BOUND” (1996)
By Lana & Lilly Wachowski | USA
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The Wachowskis has always been one of the most unique modern filmmaker to ever graced our screen. Not only do they have a unique vision, they also have a high level of integrity to maintain said vision from studio tampering. Although most people would know them solely for their breakout work in the Matrix trilogy (which many consider as their masterpiece) the Wachowskis first venture into Hollywood actually came in 1996 (three years before the first Matrix) with a debut film that feels more personal now more than we thought in its initial release.
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Let’s first address the elephant in the room : one of the main reason why the Wachowskis are interesting filmmakers are also their identities as the only major openly transgender hollywood directors. The siblings made their decision public separately; Lana announcing his transition back in 2010 and Lilly just recently. Not only is this an important step in their personal life, the Wachowskis decision to transition also led for some very interesting read to their filmography, especially to their debut feature film.
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The premise of “Bound” is simple; two lovers unite together to plan a complicated heist to steal something from her crooked abusive husband. But instead of this couple being the typical heterosexual man and woman pairing, the protagonists of “Bound” are instead homosexuals, something that the Wachowskis apparently fought hardly against the studio to maintain. At the time such studio intolerance are unfortunately quite common. Queer cinema are afterall not as mainstream and well accepted as of recent years. The Wachowskis of course recognized this and being a member of the LGBT community themselves surely prompts them into telling this story. In the surface, “Bound” may seem like your typical 90s romantic crime thriller along the line of “Basic Instinct” and “The Bodyguard”, but in the end, what it excels at the most is actually its exploration on sexuality and gender dynamics that the they infused into it.
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Similarly to their later works, the Wachowskis didn’t deliver their messages raw and unpackaged. Wrapping the underlying themes of the movie is a very dynamic direction and writing that propels the film into exciting new heights. This is, safely to say, one of the most tension-filled movie I’ve ever seen and all that is thanks to how the Wachowskis presents the main story. The way the narrative constantly builds into a larger and larger conflict is strongly gripping; and when all hell finally breaks loose in its final act, the film hits you with an overbearing release you’ve been begging throughout its course. I dare even say, the care and skill put into the build up of the tension here is even comparable to Hitchcock’s and Tarantino’s finest works. While the low budget, yet explorative camerawork creates its own unique aesthetics, closest to that of De Palma’s.
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Combined as one, the personal message of sexuality and the clear directorial visions of the Wachowski siblings made for this incredible debut of theirs; catapulting them from the indie filmmaker status to helm the biggest sci-fi action flick of the late 90s later on. It may still be debatable on whether or not “Bound” is still the Wachowskis’ best work yet, but what it is undoubtably is that it is their most personal. This is — in the word of Jennifer Tilly’s character stated — the Wachowskis “trying to seduce you” with their prominent skills while making a statement of their own, one that seems to pass everyone’s head at that time.
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