The Tie That Binds (1995) Poster

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Poor Conclusion
Claudio Carvalho14 February 2016
After robbing a house, the criminals Leann Netherwood (Daryl Hannah) and John Netherwood (Keith Carradine) stumble with the police and they need to flee, leaving their six year-old daughter Janie (Julia Devin) behind. Janie is sent for adoption and the photographer Dana Clifton (Moira Kelly) and husband, the architect Russell Clifton (Vincent Spano), adopt her and give love to the traumatized girl. Meanwhile Leann and John begin a crime spree trying to find their daughter to take her back.

"The Tie that Binds" is an effective low-budget thriller with a good story. The screenplay is well developed and builds tension, but unfortunately the conclusion is very poor. My vote is six.

Title (Brazil): "Laços Diabólicos" ("Diabolic Ties")
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A good, suspenseful, and emotional movie.
Movieman-13315 May 1999
I liked this movie. The directing was excellent and he used shades of red to produce enchantment around that cute little girl Julie Devin. Moira Kelley looked like a motherly angel and her husband was somewhat corny, but attractive and very fatherlike. Hannah sure has changed from Splash where she looks much more older yet she still shows a style and insecurity in her character. Hannah's character is presented as someone that is not completely evil, yet her muscular rowdy husband appears to be the real headmaster of their brutal plans. The violence in the movie isn't graphic and the love between Moira and Julie is wonderfully established. Hannah is silky smooth and appears to really fit the role of a dirty, insecure woman. I liked the way the movie made many connections of the theme like mother like daughter(also father) and the scenes when Julie used violence was quite surprising, humorus, and actually thrilling. The movie wasn't the greatest thriller, yet the characters, performances, and scenes showed talent and I was satisfied with the rental.
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Excellent, until the end!
jukebox-230 November 1999
A good film, well acted with a good storyline - until the end that is! In the final 20 minutes or so, the scriptwriters obviously suspended logical actions of the characters in favour of a more dramatic and visual finale. Too bad, because this would have been an otherwise excellent film. Also, the inclusion of a real version of "Mr. Flip Flop" leading the little girl to the villain was unnecessarily cruel.
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Better as it goes along. (minor spoilers)
Pepper Anne18 July 2004
Warning: Spoilers
The Tie That Binds started out as a slow-moving drama, primarily because it was caught up with moments of parental bonding since the story involves a young girl, her new foster parents, and the deadly pursuit of the girl's natural parents for their child. But, as the dangerous team of natural parents begin to close in on the unsuspecting foster parents, the suspense element begins to rear it's head, and the movie starts to become interesting.

The story begins with two nomadic hoods, Leann and John Netherwood (Daryl Hannah and Kieth Caradine being exceptionally weird), are in the middle of one of their weird home invasions (you have to see the introduction to know what I mean by this description) when their young girl, Janie goes wondering around outside. A suspicious neighbor calls the cops who show up on the scene to investigate and are met with the Netherwoods, disturbed from their routines, to save their child from being taken by the police.

Meanwhile, Janie's in a foster home. She's a strange and pretty violent kid (the scene with her at the police headquarters is really something to shout at) which aren't qualities so much given to her by her parents, but just a natural reaction to her alienating environment. We assume that Janie just has been isolated, with the exception of the company of her parents, for her whole life. And the adjustment is about to be a difficult one for her annoyingly loving foster parents, the Cliftons (Vincent Spano and Moira Kelly). They don't really seem like the type who can handle a fragile kid like Janie, but they make the best efforts. And it starts to work for all of them.

But, always lurking two steps behind are the begrudging parents, the Netherwoods, who vow to stop at nothing to get their daughter back. And it truly turns into a tense and deadly game for all (well...not really that many people) who know of Janie's whereabouts. And they really prove how serious they are about it, too. Although, by this point, you wonder if it is really Janie they care about. You sense it from the lady Netherwood, since she's always staring at this picture of Mother and Child, trying to emulate what she sees, and at the same time, being totally weird about it. She seems very protective of Janie, while her husband, John, just seems to be after some property.

The finale is a bit overblown and seems rather out of line. The movie doesn't quite keep you on your toes as say, some of the moments where adversary and protagonist almost meet or meet for the first, threatening time as they did in 'The Hand That Rocks The Cradle' (same producers) or 'Pacific Heights.' The ending makes the final reckoning seem all too casual. And most of the screen time used for those awkward paternal bonding moments with the Cliftons and Janie seems too slow and boring, while the real action lies in the mounting pursuit of them by the Netherwoods. They should've kept that up throughout because that's where all the interest is generated, all the suspense.
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A familiar and drawn-out thriller.
gridoon1 June 2001
Awfully familiar thriller stuff that takes longer to play out than it should and ends with a particularly overdone, overextended climax. The performances are generally good and there are a few bits of imaginative camerawork, but the familiarity of the material proves to be overwhelming. The film has no personality, and most of the scenes seem to be just copies of similar events in other thrillers. (*1/2)
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A candidate for the worst movie of the 1990s
moonspinner5518 August 2007
Thoroughly repugnant and wretched melodrama has the foster couple to a little girl terrorized by the child's psychopathic biological parents, who are on the lam from the police. Warped, irresponsible picture with thriller aspirations is more stupid than suspenseful. Director Wesley Strick seems to have fallen asleep at the wheel, how else to explain the piling up of one ludicrous situation atop another? Stars Daryl Hannah and Keith Carradine can't even scrape together the semblance of believability within this context, and both are at a loss (as the "innocents", Moira Kelly and Vincent Spano don't have it quite as bad, but their general lack of charisma puts them at a disadvantage regardless). Tiresome, unsubtle junk. NO STARS from ****
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a wild tale of parentage
MisterWhiplash2 June 2017
Slightly obscured today in amid many of its kind, The Tie That Binds found writer Wesley Strick taking up directing (though he's not credited for this script) what is a mash-up of two pop-culture tropes: the trashy, Lifetime-movie-of-the-week kind of thriller and the Killers-On-The-Run-but-also-lovers movies. This doesn't always have to mean that the former is about a psychotic woman stalking another woman; many Lifetime movies concern melodramas involving children who are really f***ed up, and not all killer/lovers movies (True Romance, Natural Born Killers, Kalifornia, Freeway, maybe Doom Generation to an extent pop to mind, there are probably others) are only just the couple. Strick is able to find some wildly trashy entertainment out of both, even as he tends to over-direct things. What I mean by that I'll get to shortly.

In this case the premise has a couple of degenerate criminals (Carradine and Hannah, having the time of their lives in these parts, with Carradine being sleazy as all get out, while Hannah has that Juliette Lewis fluttery-crazy butterfly thing going on, like she could kill something in a moment but seems calmer than what Lewis did in NBK) with a daughter, and after a bad break-in the daughter is left behind and the cops take her. She's turned over to child protective services and, instead of going to some bad foster home, she's discovered by Nice TV Movie Couple Moira Kelly and Vincent Spano. While she is a photographer (conveniently tying in to how Carradine's character also took photos at the scenes of his crimes), he is trying to build a house from scratch as a contractor. Neither seem to fully grasp that their newly adopted little girl is traumatized completely, having lived a life that is kind of like a wild child, only with manic criminal-killer-thief people. Drama ensues, and meanwhile her real parents go on the long road to hell to track her down.

It's got a lot of elements of the 90's and I think that it's not as strong as a lot of examples I could think of. But I think Strick recognizes fully both the potential and the weaknesses in this material; we know the good couple are going to be good and the bad couple are going to be completely tasteless freaks. Where Strick goes wrong is mostly near the end, and midway through, where he tries to go for some planting and paying off by suddenly going into the girl's point of view; it's a pretentious move (and also an odd thing to see, say, children in a play with fairy tales being done up with... adults acting with the kids, i.e. the Big Bad Wolf is an adult woman and the kids are kids, but... huh, and then later this pays off or is supposed to with the daughter in a scene in the woods). Strick also is addicted to grandiose over-head shots, but without much purpose; this was his first feature and in this, the big technical maneuvers - perhaps he was taking a cue from Scorsese in some part, being the writer on Cape Fear 91 - he shows he's still trying to learn on the job and falling flat in this area.

But with actors he's much stronger. If you like Carradine and like all the more to see him being an unapologetic scumbag, then this is a movie for you and then some (watch when he kicks the vending machine after the other guy next to him won't kick it, as the first guy says, "Yeah, I can't, I'm a prosecutor," to then Carradine's response after kicking it hard, "It's alright, I'm a felon - see ya, counselor"), and Hannah too has a lot of great scenes where she doesn't have to do much to get under your skin while at the same time having a small piece of vulnerability to her. She's like the more messed-up, grotty cousin of Nicole Kidman here or something, and a moment where she tries to get her daughter back, as coolly as she can, from a school recess, is amazing.

Kelly and Spano may not have as entertaining roles, but they do a commendable job and actually make this Good-Parent-Couple have personality. Strick lets them be real people for a moment or two, like an awkward sex scene (yeah, for some reason the door's open so if the little girl wanted she could totally look in) where the main concern is the squealing bed-springs. And all the while there's the little girl Janie (Julia Devin); I wasn't sure at times how the filmmakers intended her to be presented as a screwed-up and victim of abuse and trauma; she cuts herself at times and then at others lashes out at people. I would've liked to see just another piece, or more than one to give some more context outside of the opening of the film for how Janie got this way. The writing for her gets a little better near the end - planting and payoffs, yey - but I also wondered if her placid expression for much of the film was a way to make it easier on directing her. Who knows! The Ties That Bind is really dumb for much of its run-time, and I think it knows it. It gets by on throwing together the trashiest parts of its genres, of familial dyfunctions on both ends, and while Carradine and Hannah may be acting at times in another movie than Kelly and Spano, the results don't feel too uneven to me. Not art, but a guilty pleasure about what it means to be a parent, a child, and a member of society.
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The early 90s called. They want their thriller back
rooprect22 December 2015
To fully savor this movie, you have to realize that it attempts to compete with iconic early-90s thrillers like "The Hand that Rocks the Cradle" (1992), "Sleeping with the Enemy" (1991), "Cape Fear" (1991) and the 80s flick that jump started the whole family-centered-crime-thriller genre, "Fatal Attraction" (1987).

Released in 1995, "The Tie That Binds", is a bit late to the party, and for that reason sometimes it feels like a contrived rehash of what we've already seen, but it still delivers an entertaining ride. The plot centers around a young girl who gets in the middle of a sort of custody battle between two couples. But this custody battle is not fought with legalities, it's fought with sharp metal objects and things that tend to make people bleed through the head. It's a clearcut battle of good vs. evil, so there's no moral ambiguity. Unless King Solomon was drunk on mevushal, he wouldn't need to debate more than 2 seconds on who deserves the kid. So the movie is more like a "run from the bad guys" sort of thing, linear, sometimes predictable, but fun.

Daryl Hannah and Keith Carradine play a psychotic Bonnie & Clyde while Moira Kelly and Vincent Spano play the most ideal yuppie parents anyone could ever dream up. Thus the stage is set. Good performances all around make this entertaining, although more cynical audiences may not buy how extremely stereotypical each character is. But hey, we're on the heels of the 80s where everything was clearcut black & white. Like I said above, don't expect any heavy issues of morality or any question of who is right and wrong. Just expect a straightforward game of "keep away" but with a bunch of blood. As others have mentioned, the ending chain of events is a little over the top, but heck. "Over the top" is what this movie delivers.
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Fails To Recapture The Spirit Of The Producers' Successful Film
Desertman8410 August 2014
Warning: Spoilers
The Tie That Binds tells a story of a couple who are suffering and struggling after their adopted daughter is being reclaimed by her biological parents that happens to be a murderous couple and would go to any means necessary - legal or illegal - in doing so.It stars Daryl Hannah and Keith Carradine as the violent couple,who are also tries to harass the policeman that took their daughter away from them and the social worker who took care of her at foster home.Meanwhile Vincent Spano and Moira Kelly star as the adoptive couple who are in danger. It was directed by Wesley Strick.

The producers tried to recapture the spirit of their successful movie The Hand That Rocks The Cradle in this particular film.Despite of its complexities and sophistication in the story,it does not manage to do so as it came out mediocre in its genre.Too bad that the conclusion did not serve well with many of the viewers including myself as it was simply too implausible particularly when the young daughter was called upon to do something weird at the conclusion for the safety of her adoptive parents.Added to that,there was no depth into the characters and the story lacks background on them particularly the murderous couple.Some would also feel that this is one the worst films ever made during the 90's.
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