I saw this movie while I was at South By Southwest. What particularly intrigued me about it was the fact that asked a lot of questions and answered none of them. You rarely see that anymore. Most movies, even the independents, will give the audience some sense that all of the questions have answers and that the conclusions to people's dilemmas are satisfying to anyone sitting in a dark room eating popcorn.
Don't get me wrong, I like going to the movies and I like a lot of what I see. I work a 9 to 5 job and a lot of the time I just want to watch mindless comforting good old fashioned entertainment.
But that's not all I want to see. Somethings I enjoy a movie with characters and themes that I can empathathize with on some level, a story that is making observations that no one else is making. Bondage did that for me. It showed a different side of the American dream. It's a movie that dares to show what happens when everything breaks down, who pays (the next generation) and how that cycle perpetuates itself.
That alone is interesting enough, but it also serves as an allegory for what is happening in the world today. I'm not an independent film snob by any means. Most of them are boring actually. I really liked Titanic when it came out. But what I liked about Titanic, besides all of the obvious stuff, is what I like about Bondage. Both movies are saying something bigger than what they appear to be saying.
Titanic says that if we get big enough and arrogant enough we will become vulnerable and this could sink the whole ship. If the ship sinks, most of us are going down. Clearly that movie is talking about America.
Bondage does the same thing, but in a much different way. Bondage not only gets into the private lives, yearnings, secrets, regrets and longings (to be free of something) of each of its characters, but it also seems to be asking a much bigger question. And I think that question is what makes it almost a cautionary tale (like Titanic). The question is, "What are we, as a society of civilized people, doing here? What are we ignoring? What is the loose thread that can unravel the whole garment?" I found the interview with the director and cast very interesting at the end because the director, who also wrote the script, was talking about this. It was as though the movie had set out to take the temperature of an entire nation and hold up the thermometer. I will not be surprised, when this movie is in theaters, if some people look at that thermometer and don't like what they see. I've read some of these posts and I can already see the desire on the part of some people to attempt to kill the messenger because they don't like the news he brings.
Bondage is a story worth telling and it is well told. It is rich and entertaining, darkly funny at times, unbearably sad at others, engaging the whole way and sometimes even hard to watch. If it were out, I would have gone to see it again by now. It's just one of those films that stays with you.
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