Saturday, April 18, 2015

“Bleeding Heart”–Movie Review



During the first weekend of The Tribeca Film Festival, I attended the World Premiere of the new drama “Bleeding Heart” starring Jessica Biel and Zosia Mamet.


When a woman finds a girl she believes may be her biological sister, they become acquainted – but when she learns the girl’s abusive boyfriend is also her pimp, can she be saved?


Working as a yoga instructor in Los Angeles, May (Biel) is something of an anachronism – a spiritual type, others’ observations characterize her as something of a hippy.   Living with her boyfriend and business partner Dex (Edi Gathegi), they are trying to expand their yoga business.  Adopted as a child, May knows she has a biological half-sister somewhere out in the world and becomes committed to finding her.  Eventually, she locates Shiva (Mamet), a young lady living with her boyfriend Cody (Joe Anderson) in a cheap apartment complex in town. 

Reluctantly, Shiva agrees to meet with May, who manages to convince her that they are indeed related.  After a while, their guard drops and the two seem to hit it off as they both start to actually believe they are sisters.  As May gets to know Shiva, she comes to find out that Shiva’s career isn’t going quite as well as May’s; with Shiva encountering difficulty paying rent from month to month, May lends her some money.  Later, she learns that Shiva has been lying – instead of employment a “massage therapist”, she’s really a prostitute and Cody is the one who secures her johns. 

Ultimately, May discovers Cody is being both physically and emotionally abusive to Shiva and offers her a place to stay – much to the consternation of Dex.  When Cody arranges an appointment for Shiva, May decides she is the only one who can intervene.  Rescuing Shiva, May goes to her adoptive mother’s house, bringing Shiva with her.  Understandably, her mother is angry about this intrusion and doesn’t exactly make Shiva feel particularly welcome.  However, Cody becomes aware of Shiva’s whereabouts and shows up at the mother’s house to retrieve both his girlfriend and meal ticket.  But when Cody confronts the interfering May, will she be able to rescue Shiva once again or will both women be endangered by Cody? 


Here’s a question for you:  If the protagonist in your movie behaves foolishly and makes irrational decisions, are they truly heroic characters?  And can an audience truly root for such a person?  Well, perhaps if the film in question is a comedy, a filmmaker might be able to get away with such a choice (e.g., “Dumb And Dumber”?).  But can it be carried off in a drama?  A viewing of “Bleeding Heart” may be able to answer that question for you.  The answer will be a resounding no, she is neither heroic nor can an audience make much of an emotional investment in her. 

While it’s certainly refreshing to see Mamet in a role so drastically different (and darker) than the goofy chick she plays on HBO’s “Girls”, neither her performance nor that of Biel can manage to elevate the weak material in “Bleeding Heart”.  This movie evolves into an updated version of “Thelma And Louise”, replete with the full complement of male-phobic screed.   “Bleeding Heart” is a female buddy film with female buddies that not only aren’t easily relatable but also not women you’d want to have as friends (much less see them as each other’s friends). 

Following the screening, there was a question and answer session with “Bleeding Heart”’s writer/director Diane Bell.  Bell said that the idea for the story came out of her own background as a yoga instructor; she eventually wound up teaching in Spain, where she came into contact with a number of prostitutes.  She said that these women were unhappy and not necessarily in their profession voluntarily.  In the original version of the screenplay, the two women were not sisters; according to Bell, one of the producers, who was adopted, suggested the idea that perhaps they were sisters – the idea took hold and remained in the script. 

Bleeding Heart (2015) on IMDb

No comments:

Post a Comment

Speak Your Piece, Beeyotch!