"Bound By Flesh", And Budgetary Concerns Review

I don't know a happy freak.

Documentary filmmaking is as varied a genre as any with fanatics that consume them exclusively. To the select, this is obvious, but to those who only dally in documentaries, the assumption is that documentaries are distinguished by content rather than form. The reality, however, is that in the same way a movie about a construction foreman (Locke (2014)) can be gripping, the quality of the film is determined by the same elements, fiction or non-fiction. Music, editing, "performance", insights, are all places where Bound By Flesh (2012) displays its importance by fumbling them completely despite a ostensibly fascinating subject.

Bound By Flesh tells the story--and I do mean tells the story--of conjoined twins Daisy and Violet during the first half of the 20th century. The film is chronological, exhaustive, and exhausting. Using roughly three or four talking heads and a camera swiveling over a few dozen pictures, director Leslie Zemeckis--where have I heard that name before?--takes us from birth to death at a break-neck speed in order to pack in as much data as possible in an hour and a half. The musical choice is insistent and completely inappropriate to the moment, like listening to techno while walking through a park or museum.

The general tent poles of their lives are rather simple: born, sold to be exhibited, exhibited by mean and protective managers, are emancipated just as the vaudeville dies, try and fail to maintain their fame, and die in a small southern town. Where one documentarian might take this as a framework to fashion some kind of perspective on America or weirdness, Zemeckis lets the story tell itself through the voices of its posthumous exploiters and providing one long sideshow. The storytelling gets so data hungry that one talking head talks about cab fare with the same amount of emphasis and screentime as we got on the twins' biological mother. The sensitivity of film might be best explained in one moment: a local describes the beautiful place where the twins were buried as "one of the two or three better cemeteries in town."

Bonus features

Additional interviews, The Making of Bound By Flesh, "It's Not All That Important To Fit In" (an audio interview), Daisy & Violet (1956 interview), a photo gallery, and trailer.

"Bound By Flesh" is on sale October 28, 2014 and is not rated. Documentary. Written and directed by Leslie Zemeckis.

Jason Ratigan • Staff Writer

A lawyer-turned-something-else with a strong appreciation for film and television.  He knows he can't read every great book ever written, but seeing every good movie ever made is absolutely doable.  Check out his other stuff on Wordpress.



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