PLOT: A yoga instructor discovers she has a sister she never knew. When the two finally meet, she attempts to save her new found family from a dangerously abusive relationship.
REVIEW: I’ve always had a fondness for Jessica Biel. She is beautiful and yes, she can act. In her latest drama BLEEDING HEART, she has a few nice moments as a yoga instructor who discovers a long lost sister played by Zosia Mamet. For the first half hour or so of the film, I found myself curious about their relationship and just how it would evolve. Unfortunately this is an all too predictable thriller. It takes the usual steps, but without adding any real intensity or suspense. Had this been a quirky drama it may have had more of an impact, but it ultimately takes it to very routine thriller territory. It is a case of a well-to-do woman trying to help her newfound relation that needs money and is in an abusive relationship. When this works is when the story simply explores the two sisters discovering each other for the first time.
Biel plays May, a yoga instructor living a happily blissful life. She is in a relationship with another yoga instructor named Dex (Edi Gathegi), and the two are all about finding their inner peace. Things change for May however when she discovers that she has a biological sister named Shiva (Zosia Mamet). The young woman is living a very different life than what May is used to. She works in the sex industry and her boyfriend Cody (Joe Anderson) is an abusive jerk – strangely enough he wasn’t nearly as annoying as Dex. When May and Shiva develop a bond, the ever so helpful sister decides to help Shiva try to escape from her miserable life. Unfortunately for them, Cody is not terribly keen on the idea. Actually, neither is Dex or Sarah’s other mother Martha (Kate Burton). Both are really pissed off, and quite dumb. Actually, all of these characters are.
BLEEDING HEART is a terrible title, and the film isn’t much better. Writer and director Diane Bell was seemingly trying to make a statement, but it just comes off as ponderous and dull. While I liked Biel’s performance, the woman she plays is a bit too self righteous. And while we sit and wonder what Shiva’s actual intentions are, it is also hard to root for her. Clearly they wanted the audience to question her motives with Sarah, but she seems to randomly change what her intention throughout – I guess this is probably accurate however when it comes to abusive situations. Mamet is certainly capable, and she is good here, even though Shiva comes across as either incredibly manipulative or just plain idiotic. For all the strangeness with these sisters, the movie really falters with the boyfriends. Dex is awful, and Gathegi isn’t given anything to do. He is a selfish and pretentious a-hole that is purely superficial. And while Joe Anderson is at least able to give Cody a little color, he is simply the stereotypical abuser.
The performances are far from the problem here, the characters are just poorly written. There is little depth here as they are either rich and selfish or poor and cynical. This is especially frustrating to watch an actor like Anderson who is so very good. He gives what he can to this jerk of a boyfriend, but he ultimately comes across as a violent dimwit. The script by Bell is not even by-the-numbers, it is just lazy and uneventful. And when we finally do get to that climatic end, it is horribly obvious and more importantly, a whole lot of dumb. Whatever the point of this movie actually is, it is really hard to feel anything for anybody involved. It is a slow and uneventful build to not a whole lot of anything – and some of it you can’t even see thanks to bad lighting which perhaps could just be the screener link that I had.
The trouble with BLEEDING HEART is that there is a gem somewhere in here. Biel is very competent to headline a film like this, but there is little for her to really do. Whenever this goes into “thriller” mode it becomes a bit of a bore. You could probably do without any of the bad boyfriend garbage and just have this a dramatic exploration of two sisters who never knew each other before. When Biel and Mamet are together just sharing their stories, it is far more enlightening than when the brutish dick comes calling. It may be better than a Lifetime movie of the week, but it fails to create any sort of tension at all. If anything, this reminds me how much I’d like to see both Anderson and Biel – hell, even Mamet – in a better film than this.