Bleeding Love

***

Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

You Sing, I Sing Louder
"The acting and the visuals are of the highest order, especially given the sensitive and personal nature of some of the revelations."

There is an added piquancy not to mention salacious interest to Emma Westenberg’s debut feature with the knowledge that her two leads Ewan McGregor and daughter Clara have been inspired to a degree by their own occasionally troubled real-life relationship.

The emotional wounds as they set off together on a road trip across the wide open vistas of the New Mexico landscapes swiftly become apparent.

The characters remain unnamed for no particular good reason and their individual backgrounds tend to be sketchy. He’s a landscape gardener and she is struggling with addictions as well as her father’s second spouse.

At a stopover we hear him looking for a place for her in a rehab centre. It emerges that she has just been in hospital after an overdose of pills. Along the way they meet an oddball assortment of characters who punctuate the journey with Kim Zimmer as tow-truck driver; her nephew, played by Jake Weary, in a birthday party clown outfit and Vera Bulder as a street worker with dreams of a better life.

The acting and the visuals are of the highest order, especially given the sensitive and personal nature of some of the revelations such as when a phone call comes from her father’s young son which definitely could have painful real-life echoes.

Westenberg has the courage of her convictions and knows how to play the fiction versus the reality in the performances of the duo. They are dutifully complicit in the arrangement which gives the film added intrigue and fascination.

You do not need, however, the full back story to appreciate going along for the ride with both McGregors belting out Leona Lewis’s hit Bleeding Love with unrestrained gusto in one of the more memorable sequences.

The film is a tad uneven in the narrative drive but compensates by its no-holds barred dissecting and reforging of family bonds.

Reviewed on: 02 Jul 2023
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Bleeding Love packshot
After overdosing on benzodiazepines and opioids, a young woman is picked up from the hospital by her father and the two embark on a road trip together. He was absent during most of her childhood due to addiction. In a last ditch effort to save her, he attempts to convince her to get sober.
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Director: Emma Westenberg

Writer: Ruby Caster, based on a story by Clara McGregor, Vera Bulder, Ruby Caster

Starring: Clara McGregor, Ewan McGregor, Vera Bulder, Jake Weary, Kim Zimmer, Devyn McDowell, Sasha Alexander

Year: 2023

Runtime: 112 minutes

Country: US

Festivals:

SXSW 2023
Glasgow 2024

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