Features and Columns · Movies

How The Wachowskis Flipped the Film Noir Script

Their debut, ‘Bound,’ announced their arrival on the scene of genre cinema.
Bound Wachowski Film Noir
Gramercy Pictures
By  · Published on January 6th, 2021

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay about how the Wachowski sisters’ debut film, ‘Bound,’ subverts the genre conventions of film noir.

Auteur cinema has its sins, I’ll admit. Many a megalomaniac has arrogantly traipsed into the jungle armed with a film crew and an ego the size of Greenland to risk real human lives for the sake of art. But one of the boons of following a director’s career is watching their inaugural attempt at movie-making. Reservoir Dogs feels like a concise thesis of everything Quentin Tarantino would go on to do. Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It was a veritable door-kick. And it’s unbelievable that Sidney Lumet’s first crack at a feature film was 12 Angry Men.

So when I first learned that The Wachowskisdirectorial debut was a subversive, queer noir thriller, my jaw dropped to the floor like a cartoon wolf. And it stars Jennifer Tilly, Gina Gershon, and Joe Pantoliano? Holy crap!

After penning 1995’s Assassins (which was, supposedly, a mixed experience), the sisters chose to make their foray into feature filmmaking by doing something no one had done before. Namely: a film noir from the perspective of the femme fatale. In a move that would prove a telling, they chose to work from within a well-known genre, while at the same time making it wholly theirs. Film noir is a genre that mutates quite readily; its conventions are clear and transferrable. And more to the point: it is a ready and willing space for a good twist.

So, with all this in mind, let’s dive in. Here’s how The Wachowskis announced their presence by breaking all the rules.

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Who made this?

This video essay comes courtesy of Now You See It. They are a YouTube channel dedicated to film analysis searching for meaning in unexpected places. You can follow Now You See It on YouTube and check out their back catalog here. Now You See It is run by Virginia-based software engineer Jack Nugent, who you can follow on Twitter here.

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Meg has been writing professionally about all things film-related since 2016. She is a Senior Contributor at Film School Rejects as well as a Curator for One Perfect Shot. She has attended international film festivals such as TIFF, Hot Docs, and the Nitrate Picture Show as a member of the press. In her day job as an archivist and records manager, she regularly works with physical media and is committed to ensuring ongoing physical media accessibility in the digital age. You can find more of Meg's work at Cinema Scope, Dead Central, and Nonfics. She has also appeared on a number of film-related podcasts, including All the President's Minutes, Zodiac: Chronicle, Cannes I Kick It?, and Junk Filter. Her work has been shared on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour, Business Insider, and CherryPicks. Meg has a B.A. from the University of King's College and a Master of Information degree from the University of Toronto.