Ellis Hanson
INTRODUCTION
Out Takes
I love the film
Bound
(1996). As a naughty, violent, ironic, and otherwise
amusing bit of wish fulfillment about two smooth-talking dykes who out-
smart the Mafia, this film came as a welcome alternative to the spate of
clunky and vacuous lesbian romances and curiously interchangeable mob
movies that I had seen that year. The publicity for the film was not, I
admit, very encouraging, apart from the promise, published in
Entertain-
ment Weekly,
that Gina Gershon is a "fierce hot patootie of Linda Fio-
rentino proportions," an inspired turn of phrase wholly unthinkable in
reviews of other recent films on lesbian themes. I was impressed, however,
by the visual and verbal savvy of
Bound.
Far more skillfully than Sheila
McLaughlin's 1986 film,
She Must Be Seeing Things,
which has been virtu-
ally canonized by feminist film theorists despite its amateurishness, this
no irish crowd-pleaser engages many of the central issues oflesbian and gay
studies of film, namely, stereotyping and the politics of representation, the
gendering of cinematic production, the queering of the look, fetishism and
scopophilia, and the queer appropriation of popular visual and narrative
styles.
Bound
is preoccupied with the articulation of power and sexuality
within the field of vision - how desire is rendered visible, for whom, and to
what end. Much of the plot hinges on lesbian invisibility, and yet the film
uses the whole gamut of classic scopophilic lures-carefully staged sex
scenes, fetishistic costumes, killer cosmetics, shadowy lighting, voyeuristic
point-of-view shots, and so on-to help us to recognize the sexual inten-
sity of the relationship between the two female leads, Violet and Corky.
Theirs is a desire that the men in the film cannot see, though the women
hide it in plain sight. Violet-what else could one call the femme hero-
ine? - is married to a mobster named "Caesar," a fatal name in his case:
since he never "sees her" desire, he is never quite able to "seize her," to
keep
her bound within the narrative of his own pleasure. The film becomes
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