A father takes his estranged daughter on a road trip in an effort to get her out of trouble. Along the way they meet all types of strangers, as their strained relationship is put to the test.

Chuck says:

I think there’s a great deal of catharsis and more than a bit of emotional healing taking place during “Bleeding Love,” a father-daughter story that resonates with its stars, Ewan and Clara McGregor. When the veteran actor left his wife and kids for fellow thespian Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clara referred to her in the media as “a piece of trash,” an initial reaction she eventually stated, “wasn’t the most mature way to go about things.” Father and daughter have since reconciled and all seems fine on the home front, the blended family now celebrating holidays together and welcoming the couple’s newborn children into the fold.

Clara has stated the film “was inspired by my father and I finding each other in moments and how we lost each other in moments.” This, as well as the fact the movie deals with substance abuse, which the actress has dealt with, adds a degree of raw realism and poignancy that gives this somewhat predictable story some much needed gravitas.

It’s obvious, there’s a sense of tension between the father and daughter of the piece from the start.  Traveling through the southwest, a heavy silence pervades the cab of the beat-up pickup truck they’re in.  We eventually learn she has recently suffered a near fatal overdose, and he’s come to take her home.  What she doesn’t realize is that he’s actually taking her to a rehab clinic, a move he knows she’ll fight.

They encounter more than a few eccentrics along the backroads route they take, from a gregarious female tow truck driver, a Native American mechanic who gifts them a pumpkin, as well as a kindly woman-of-the-night with dreams of Broadway stardom. A fair share of ne’er-do-wells also cross their path, each tempting the struggling young woman in ways she cannot resist.

There are few surprises along the way. The father and daughter tentatively deal with the pain they’ve caused one another, a temporary bond is formed, that’s torn asunder when she realizes she’s headed to rehab, and she goes missing. Nothing we haven’t seen before or could predict.

Yet, the raw and, at times, no-holds-barred way in which the McGregors go at each other elevates and transcends the material. The daughter’s resentment that her father has left her and her mother to start a new family is spewed by Clara with a level of anger that’s palpable. Ewan’s inability to defend his character’s actions to his child’s satisfaction has a ring of truth, as does the frustration he feels in his inability to reach his daughter, giving way to anger over her refusal to accept his help.

Much-like the criminally overlooked Ben Affleck feature “The Way Back,” the foundation of genuine pain, anger, desperation and ultimately forgiveness that exists between the two performers makes this more than a simple throwaway movie.  To be sure, it is self-serving on multiple levels but the McGregors’ willingness to lay themselves bare I think isn’t solely narcissistic. The problems each deal with are not sugar-coated and the film is wise enough not to suggest that once the daughter completes rehab, all will be well. That her recovery and theirs will require a life-long commitment and that relapses are likely is never in doubt.

Director Emma Westenberg does a fine job creating a “you-are-there” aesthetic that perfectly complements the emotional goings-on. There is a sense throughout that we are eavesdropping on what the father and daughter are dealing with, which is the point. The McGregors are presenting their relationship as a cautionary tale, one they hope similarly troubled viewers of “Love” can glean some hope from.

3 Stars


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