This week and into next, the Seattle International Film Festival is honoring the Wachowskis as part of its Auteur August series. The directing duo's sultry first feature and lesbian masterpiece, Bound, will kick things off.
The film starts as any good love story would: A hot, ex-con butch named Corky (Gina Gershon) falls for a hot, seductive femme named Violet (Jennifer Tilly) while working on a repair job in an apartment building.
The first 20 minutes unfurl some of the gayest, most erotic moments I've seen committed to tape: an earring dropped down the sink, a labrys tattoo, hands as instruments of love, twisted bedsheets, passionate moans. This love propels the other 89 minutes of the film, which is an excellently plotted, blood-soaked neo-noir.
After the steamy affair, the sapphic, star-crossed couple hatch a plan to rip off Violet's Mafia jerkoff boyfriend, Caesar (The Sopranos' Joe Pantoliano), for $2 million and then frame him for the crime. Of course, the scheme doesn't necessarily go as planned, and ultimately the lovers have to figure out a way to make it out alive, together, and with all that cash.
The Wachowskis never undermine or exploit the connection between Violet and Corky—they are two fully fleshed-out women whose desire is treated maturely despite the differences in the way they present. "I know what I am," Violet says after a passionate fuck, defending her dykeness from Corky's eye rolls. "I don't need to have it tattooed on my shoulder." Perhaps that authenticity is also due to the work of feminist Susie Bright, who the directors brought on as "sex consultant" (unheard of in the 1990s for an independent film) and who helped coordinate the sex scenes, saving Bound from the dustbin of bad lesbian movies that came before it.
Regardless, Violet and Corky both bypass the rigid noir stereotypes—the femme fatale, the sexy guy with a murky past—to become real-feeling characters who are desperate for a way to transcend their current circumstances and the patriarchy to be together. Plus, the movie also brought us this incredible photo. It's a perfect date night watch!
Bound is screening at SIFF Cinema Egyptian on Friday, August 12 and Tuesday, August 16.