Dynamic duo

Sapphic sistersslug it out with the mobin the terrific Bound

Larry and Andi Wachowski have been more respectful than you might think two hetero boys would be toward their film's potentially huge lesbian audience, having made much fuss in the press about hiring Susie Bright, the sharp-tongued Sapphic sex columnist, as an adviser to the film. In the end, it was more of a public-relations overture than a real necessity, because Bound is not a "lesbian movie" in the way that Desert Hearts or John Sayles' Lianna was. In other words, the film doesn't attempt to explore the psychology of same-sex love, but only assumes that passion in any gender combination can drive two people to risk their lives for a happy future together.

We root for Corky and Violet not because they're lesbians, but because their characters revive a classic "lovers on the run" dynamic in American cinema--and because Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon, thankfully, don't dig any harder beneath the story's surface than what the Wachowskis' clipped, white-knuckle dialogue provides. As anyone who has ever seen Tilly on a talk show can attest, that breathless baby-doll voice is no affectation. She lassos it with impressively steely undertones for this, her first ass-kicking role. Gershon is the pouty-lipped, leather-wearing brawn, though intriguingly "the one who wears the pants" in this duo is not the one at the wheel.

The biggest question for Bound is, will it fall between the cracks that separate straight and gay in America? Is it, in other words, too homo for heteros and not quite homo enough for homos? It would be a shame if either side walked away from the hellacious, hairpin good time Larry and Andi Wachowski have created here. Male or female, straight or gay, no lover of the American crime thriller should deny themselves the opportunity to identify with Corky and Violet in their balls-to-the-wall heist.

Bound. Gramercy Pictures. Jennifer Tilly, Gina Gershon, Joe Pantoliano. Written and directed by Larry and Andi Wachowski. Opens October 4.

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