The HoloFiles

REVIEW: Bleeding Love

By George Bate & Josh Bate

In 1996, Ewan McGregor burst onto the scene with a standout role in the film Trainspotting, which went on to become a cult classic and one of the most memorable films of its decade. McGregor’s career continued to skyrocket from there, being cast as a young Obi-Wan Kenobi in George Lucas’ Star Wars prequels. His take on the wise Jedi master is what McGregor is most known for, but he’s also played characters in smaller, more intimate films as well. 

McGregor’s latest film, titled Bleeding Love, is just that, and is a delightful family reunion as well. Alongside the elder McGregor is Clara, his 28 year old daughter who also popped up in her father’s films before, such as Christopher Robin, albeit in much smaller roles. This time, Clara takes center stage, playing a character only known as Daughter. Ewan McGregor, meanwhile, is credited as the Father, and the story follows the duo as they embark on a long road trip in order to get the drug addicted youngster to a rehab facility. 

Bleeding Love review

Bleeding Love success depends greatly on the chemistry between the two lead characters. Given that the actors are actually father and daughter in real life, that chemistry is easy to come by, and Ewan and Clara play off of each other brilliantly throughout. There’s a level of authenticity to the story, and at times the performances, along with the excellent direction from Emma Westenberg, makes it feel as if the audience is getting a sneak peek into the lives of real people. The impact that has on the viewer is huge; when the characters are distressed, happy, sad, or laughing, chances are the audience is experiencing the roller coaster of emotions along with them. 

A particular scene that stands out includes the duo bonding in a wacky, ocean-themed motel, overcoming the animosity that they started the film with and beginning to get closer once more. It’s in that room that the daughter realizes her father is taking her to rehab, and the devastation of the deception, especially for a young addict who overdosed just hours before, is palpable. The same can be said for the complicated family dynamics at play, with the father having a new family and a young child that he’s raising, and for whom he’s around more than he was for his eldest daughter. It can understandably be difficult to pack all of that history into a 90 minute film, but director Westenberg, from a script by Ruby Caster (and a story developed in part by Clara McGregor), manages to do it excellently. Not only can the audience understand the long history between the father and the daughter, but the emotions can be felt greatly as well. 

Bleeding Love review

Most viewers will recognize Ewan McGregor from his role in Star Wars, which he recently reprised for a Disney+ series in 2022, but Clara is still a relative newcomer. The England-born American actor first appeared on screen in 2017, and played roles mostly in a series of short films since then. She’s also appeared on television, starring in five episodes of American Horror Story, as well as The Birthday Cake, an oddball mafia thriller in 2021. In her relatively short time as an actor, Clara McGregor has impressed, with Bleeding Love the standout performance of her career thus far. 

Clara McGregor arguably steals the show from her father, portraying the daughter with a certain vulnerability, edginess, yet teenage innocence as well. This makes it so that Bleeding Love is not just focusing on repairing complex family relationships, but is an authentic, raw, and real depiction of addiction and the affect it can have on the patient and their families. Clara McGregor is a massive part of that authenticity, and she gives one of, if not the best performance of the year thus far.

Bleeding Love review

VERDICT: 9/10

Bleeding Love is the latest film in Ewan McGregor’s long and illustrious filmography, but is arguably his most intimate and personal role yet. Alongside his daughter Clara, who is the highlight of the film as a young woman suffering from opioid addiction, the McGregors combine to make an intimate, emotionally resonant film that is an early contender to make Top 10 Movies of 2024 lists in some months time.

Bleeding Love is in select theaters and on demand February 16. Check out the trailer below:

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