From Socialist Review, No. 170, December 1993.
Copyright © Socialist Review.
Copied with thanks from the Socialist Review Archive.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
Bound and gagged – a love story
Dir: Daniel B. Appleby
This is a road movie about two bisexual women and a straight guy enmeshed in a web of obsessive relationships. The story focuses on two women who search for personal autonomy through shifting sexual identities.
Elizabeth (Elizabeth Saltarrelli) is in a relationship with Leslie (Ginger Lyn Allen), but needs a man ‘every now and again’. Leslie is married to an abusive husband Steve (Chris Mulkey). Aghast at the discovery of his wife’s lesbianism Steve attempts a traditional male chauvinist solution.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth is trying to console her close friend Cliff (Chris Denton), who is shell-shocked at the break-up of his marriage but whose suicide attempts keep failing. Elizabeth wants to help him shake off his obsession with his estranged wife. She persuades Cliff to assist her in kidnapping Leslie so as to cure her of her lingering dependence.
The film’s title is ironic since we are presented with an image of love based on power and dependency. The most positive and least power laden relationship is the friendship between Elizabeth and Cliff. There are good moments of black humour, as when Elizabeth justifies her kidnapping of Leslie by telling her she did it out of love. The film’s central theme is the predatory and possessive quality of love relationships in our society.
The other side of this is the insight offered into the distortion and fragmentation of individuals. Although our society trumpets its commitment to the individual, the reality is that capitalism produces people who feel that they count for nothing, that they are tiny cogs in a wheel.
Strong performances from the leading players convey well this contradiction: individuals who officially believe that their lives belong to them but who, at a deeper level, feel a lack of inner substance.
The film is one-sidedly bleak. Even in our society people do struggle to build and preserve relationships based on recognition of one’s own and the other’s autonomy. The film ignores this contradictory aspect of modern relationships, that generally they consist both of love and domination. However it offers us its vision with courage if not total conviction.
Last updated: 2 March 2017