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rare female film critic | by maryann johanson

Bleeding Heart movie review: sisters in waiting

Bleeding Heart yellow light

There may not be much surprising here, but this is a smartly sensitive depiction of abuse and redemption that never descends into caricature.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Los Angeles yoga teacher May (Jessica Biel: Total Recall) finally meets the biological sister, Shiva (Zosia Mamet: The Kids Are All Right), she only recently discovered she has, and the women seem to hit it off, despite a big gap in age — 10 years — and lifestyle. May is calm, confident, collected, a “hippie,” as Shiva teases her, with a gentle, supportive boyfriend and business partner in Dex (Edi Gathegi: X-Men: First Class). Shiva is not in such a good place in her own head, beaten up in all possible ways by her abusive boyfriend, Cody (Joe Anderson: Hannibal). “I don’t need to be saved,” Shiva insists, but she clearly does. Where Bleeding Heart goes from here is not at all surprising, but the relationship between the two women, tentative at first and then growing in affection and need, is very nicely drawn by Biel and Mamet: they feel like real women, never the caricatures they so easily might have been. And writer-director Diane Bell eschews any hint of sentimentality or melodrama, depicting with smart sensitivity the impact of abuse, emotionally and psychologically, on Shiva, as well as the uphill battle May faces when trying to help someone that so many other people want to simply write off. Bleeding Heart refuses to do that, and treats Shiva with true humanity. Alas, that is surprising.


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