Dramas don’t get much more forlorn than Isaac Hirotsu Woofter’s Bound. Somehow, someway, the darkest possible outcome is always on the horizon, leaving only a small window of opportunity for its characters to escape it. The end result is a deeply personal and riveting thriller that, while often too bleak for its own good, proves that Woofter has an affinity for sensitive storytelling.

Bella (Alexandre Faye Sadeghian) and her mother Yeva (Pooya Mohseni) live squashed beneath the iron fist of her stepfather Gordy (Bryant Carroll) in a rundown trailer park. When the abuse becomes too much to bear, Bella packs up her belongings, including a pet squirrel named Bandit, and heads for the Big Apple. A fresh start awaits her, albeit not one that she can easily earn on the bustling streets of New York City. Fortune does eventually smile upon Bella when she gets herself to work at a small coffee shop owned by the soft-spoken veteran Owais (Ramin Karimloo). Gradually, Bella begins to adapt to her environment, making friends like shopkeeper Strandrick (Jaye Alexander) and bartender Marta (Jessica Pimentel). Her newfound pseudo-family has wrestled with demons of their own, creating the perfect support system for a complete reset away from the source of her trauma. As the film’s title would suggest, her past isn’t quite finished with her as Gordy re-enters her life and all hell breaks loose. Murder, suicide, blackmail, and drugs turn Bella’s life into a waking nightmare, and it’s on her to devise a plan to end it all and save Yeva.

Woofter wastes no time setting the stakes and showing why his protagonist must resort to drastic measures. Gordy is seen being violent on multiple occasions, even going so far as to hide his stepdaughter’s university acceptance letter to assert his control. Flashbacks also attempt to flesh out bits and pieces of the family’s troubled past, though these sequences somehow don’t separate themselves well enough from the chronology. Visually speaking, they feel the same, and the editing largely fails to insert them at the right moments.

However, the journey that Bella is taken on alongside her companions is more than worth sticking around for. Karimloo’s Owais is unfortunately sidelined, but that doesn’t stop him, Alexander, and Pimentel from creating relatable performances. Jaye Alexander’s Standrick, in particular, is a revelation. Sadeghian herself is no slouch, gaining confidence and poise as Bella trudges forward in the face of danger. Courageous would be a fitting word to describe her role, one that really carries all the screenplay’s difficult topics. Something of note that Bound also pulls off unexpectedly well is the juxtaposition of the urban environment and that of Bella’s isolated homestead. Not to mention the aesthetics of the film brought to life by Brian Varney’s amazing production design.

The film does throw away a lot of its lasting impact in the third act. At times, it can feel like a race to connect as many dots as possible to convey the cost of redemption. The manner in which characters enter and exit and their connections to each other feel a little too convenient, especially given how grounded the plot presents itself.

Through all the violence and heartbreak, Bound still manages to deliver some entertainment and themes worthy of contemplation. It’s incredibly dark, but those searching for a gritty self-exploration feature will have a good time with this one.




Dramas don’t get much more forlorn than Isaac Hirotsu Woofter’s Bound. Somehow, someway, the darkest possible outcome is always on the horizon, leaving only a

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