For me, stealing’s always been a lot like sex. Two people who want the same thing: they get in a room, they talk about it. They start to plan. It’s kind of like flirting. It’s kind of like… foreplay, ’cause the more they talk about it, the wetter they get. The only difference is, I can fuck someone I’ve just met. But to steal? I need to know someone like I know myself.
Given that I’m a self-confessed devotee of femme to femme encounters, I really was bound to enjoy Bound Sorry, but how could I possibly let that one pass? At least I had the decency to get it out of the way early..
The explicitness of the lesbian scenes between Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly caused quite a stir amongst the masses when the Wachowski Brothers modern noir hit cinema screens back in 1996. The first-time directors must have guessed the types of reaction the bed scene between Violet (Tilly) and Corky (Gershon) would engender, since they chose to shoot it several times, each take a single, continuous shot. This was done as an anti-tamper measure, so that the censors would find it difficult to cut something they didn’t approve of, and the studio couldn’t up the ante by employing body doubles to create more gratuitous footage. The Wachowskis even went to the lengths of bringing Susie Bright – the noted sex writer, editor and lecturer – on board as their technical advisor, to ensure that Gershon’s scenes with Tilly were more realistic than they might have been if left in the hands of the average (ignorant) red-blooded male.
It still proved controversial, the censors wanting to trim a few seconds from the main love scene. The DVD version has the full, slightly longer version. And even though one might conclude that the inclusion of Ms Bright would guarantee the satisfaction of the film’s lesbian audience, it appears there were a good many upset with the film, if for no other reason than – regardless of their skills and good intentions – the Wachowskis were still men.
But the average (ignorant) red-blooded males probably went home happy. And why shouldn’t they have? For one thing, Bound is a good noir thriller. It doesn’t top the greats of the genre, but it’s a stylishly enjoyable piece of twisting-turning cinema, competently directed and well acted.
And then there’s the femme to femme sex.
Both Gershon and Tilly are physically splendid, and the sparks generated from the moment their eyes meet across the elevator of an uptown apartment building are palpable. The scene on Corky’s rumpled bed is notably erotic. The two women are naked (and as I’ve already mentioned, both are gorgeous On a personal note, I happen to think that Ms Tilly has a most exquisite arse) and the sex we witness them enjoying is intense, if brief. Violet is busy fingering Corky to a sweaty, piano-driven climax, the camera sweeping down one side of their coupled bodies and up the other. It lingers over the tattoo that curls around Corky’s left hip, and the droplets of perspiration on her belly. The sight of Ms Tilly’s breasts pressed against Ms Gershon’s is only on screen for a second or two, but it’s likely to stay with you for much, much longer.
But although that scene proves to be the payoff to Corky and Violet’s smouldering courtship, it’s the teasing which precedes the bedroom denouement that makes this a stand-out example of cinematic erotica for me.
It’s obvious from the get-go that gangster’s moll Violet has her sights set on working woman Corky, and she wastes little time in making her move. Violet ‘drops’ her ‘favourite’ earring down the sink, then gets Corky to come and retrieve it. Wrench in hand, Corky wrestles with the U-bend, the water oozing over her fingers as she twists and turns the smooth metal becoming both an out-of-place phallic gesture, and yet a perfect precursor of what’s to come. Corky gets a beer as a reward for recovering the earring, and Violet earns herself some kudos by demonstrating that she understands the significance of the labrys tattoo on Corky’s bicep.
And the tattoo is the key to opening up the scene. Violet takes the opportunity to show off her own skin art, easing down the strap of her basque so that she can better reveal the violet tattooed against the upper slope of her left breast. “A woman in upstate New York did it for me,” she says in that breathless voice that balances on the knife edge between seduction and annoyance. “Took her all day to do it. She promised it wouldn’t hurt, but it was sore for a long time after.” Violet’s fingertips circle her tattoo, her perfectly manicured nails the exact same shade as the flower’s petals. “I couldn’t even touch it. Now I love the way it feels.”
Without waiting to be asked, Violet scoops Corky’s hand on to her breast. Corky is aroused and perplexed. “What are you doing?” she asks.
“Isn’t it obvious?” Violet replies. “I’m trying to seduce you.” And then just to prove that she really has been thinking about Corky all day, she licks the working girl’s middle finger and guides it between her stockinged thighs.
“You can’t believe what you see? But you can believe what you feel…”
It’s Violet’s fractured sighs of pleasure and her breathless begging to be kissed that really add the sensual icing to this cake. The women collapse on to the floor, kissing passionately and desperately. But just as Corky begins to slip her way down Violet’s body, the door to the apartment opens, and Violet’s live-in Goodfella, Caesar, walks in to interrupt the party.
I think it’s a great seduction scene. Actually, it’s so good, the fact that the bedroom denouement follows on so quickly is both a reward and a disappointment. There’s hardly any time for all that unfulfilled tension to resonate before the two leads are busy satisfying themselves. Maybe it’s my masochistic side that’s hurt by not being kept waiting for their naked conclusion a while longer.
The Wachowskis set something of a benchmark by getting the explicit sex out of the way in the first twenty minutes. From there on in, it’s about the twists and turns of the noir tale. And it’s hard to argue that the sex hasn’t driven the plot: their blatant desire for one another gives a believable motive for them to become embroiled in the shenanigans that follow.
And why does this one have a place in my collection? As I’ve said, I think it’s a good film. And beautiful, sensual women having sex together will probably always be a turn-on for me. The truth is, I’d love to watch and listen to my wife being seduced in just that way.
But I’ve no desire at all to share poor Caesar’s fate…