sex scenes: femme fatale for femme fatale
'Bound' (1996) shows us why the modern deadly woman is always queer.
Still from Bound via IMDB
This article originally appeared on GARAGE
The first 25 minutes of Bound (1996) are a long buildup to a sex scene. The movie, by the Wachowskis, is a neo-noir erotic thriller in which the (very ’90s) twist is that the love relationship is between two femme fatales, Corky (Gina Gershon) and Violet (Jennifer Tilly). But instead of using a man to get what they want, the two protagonists use each other, becoming lovers and conspiring to steal from the mafia. As far as queer cinema goes, this is a very simple and horny movie.
“Here, touch it,” says Violet, bringing Corky’s hand to her cleavage, to a rose tattoo hidden just below her sweetheart neckline.
“What are you doing?” asks Corky.
“Isn’t it obvious…I am trying to seduce you. I’ve wanted you ever since I saw you in the elevator,” says Violet.
“I know you don’t believe me,” she continues, “but I can prove it to you.” She guides Corky’s hand between her legs: “You can believe what you feel, and I’ve been thinking about you all day.”
It’s pure camp, with Tilly playing it breathy and baby-voiced while Gershon is all lip-biting, smirking, cool head-shaking. It’s as if the Hollywood erotic thrillers of the ’80s—with their billowing curtains, the trope of window blinds casting their shadows over nude bodies—met the retro-noir tropes all in the space of ’90s queer cinema.
Corky, an ex-con (who did time for “redistribution of wealth”) is hired to work as a plumber in a Chicago luxury building. Violet is the listless kept woman of a money launder for the mafia, a high femme whose look is pure ’90s noir: purple lipstick, push-up cleavage in fuzzy black angora, all those Thierry Mugler-inspired silhouettes. Corky, of course, is the bad boy, the butch sex symbol, hair cropped and slick, a threadbare wifebeater barely concealing the tattoos and muscled body. Classic white men’s briefs. Leather biker jacket.
The two first meet, like Violet said, in the elevator, where, behind her mafia man’s back, she threw a seductive look, the smooth jazz brushstroke letting us know it’s on. The seduction begins: “Thought you could use some coffee,” breathes Violet, sauntering and kittenish around Corky’s bored teenager affect, circling closer and closer. As if this weren’t already over-the-top enough to be comical, generic ’90s grrrl rock opens the scene in which they finally kiss.