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Bleeding Love

In the most recent civilian series of Race Across the World - a reality TV competition which sees pairs travel internationally on a budget and without technology - one of the pairings was father and daughter, Kevin and Claudia. As the episodes tick by you get to know all of the pairings, their history, and their reasons for participating in the show. It became clear fairly quickly that Kevin was making up for lost time with his daughter, having not been there for her properly as she was growing up. Seeing them slowly build back up their relationship ended up being one of the most compelling storylines of the series.

In Emma Westenberg’s feature debut Bleeding Love, Ewan McGregor plays a distant father - similarly to Kevin - trying to salvage his relationship with his daughter, played by his real life child Clara McGregor. Quite like in Race Across the World this father daughter story is emotionally affecting in all the right ways. 


Father (Ewan McGregor) takes a road trip across New Mexico with his Daughter (Clara McGregor) in an attempt to reconnect with her. Unbeknownst to he has plans to take her somewhere without telling her.  Along the way they encounter a host of faces who help them on their journey, but also with their broken relationship. 


Bleeding Love immediately thrusts you into the action. Father and daughter are in a pick-up truck driving along in silence. Both of them are holding onto the weight of an untold event that happened prior to this moment. Despite not revealing the reason for them coming back together after a period of not seeing each other, the collective pain is plain to see. The pain the father has for being absent, and the neglect the daughter feels for that reason. Their interactions are quite awkward to start with as the pair try to come back to one another. 

Their relationship throughout is purely authentic. There isn’t any movie magic when it comes to the healing of their relationship. The father is present at an incredibly trying time for his daughter, but she is rightfully combative of this help. Wondering why he cares now, if he hasn’t cared to be in her life for so long before it. Their relationship takes on an extra layer of authenticity as they are played by real life father and daughter Ewan and Clara McGregor. Not only that but Clara is Ewan’s daughter from his first marriage. When you add this on top of the fact that Clara has a story credit on Bleeding Love, it brings in the idea that Clara is holding up a mirror to their real life relationship.

Bleeding Love

This authenticity carries itself through the central performances as well. In fact, at times it doesn’t feel like they’re acting. Certain dialogue comes straight from the heart, whether it’s the father admitting his faults or the daughter sending cutting jibes to punish her father for his absence. Although it’s probably not completely true to life, the fact that you can tell they’re both having a great time working together helps to portray the slow rebuilding of their relationship.

Bleeding Love also deals with addiction, through both of the main characters. Having it affect them both - the daughter currently and the father in the past - helps the exploration work in symbiosis with the relationship drama. It could have easily felt like an afterthought, or in a feeling of too many cooks in the kitchen. Clara McGregor brings the depth needed to make it work.

Bleeding Love

Without trying to spoil why the film is titled Bleeding Love, it’s safe to say that Leona Lewis needle drops in 2024 films have been redeemed. After the egregious use of her song ‘Run’ in Argylle, one of Lewis’s most famous songs is used in one of Bleeding Love’s most emotionally affecting songs. It doesn’t just express the power of music to connect us, but the universal healing power of Leona Lewis.  

Although Bleeding Love might have been expensive therapy for the McGregor’s, the story is sure to resonate with many people who have estranged family members, or who have battled with addiction. The success of Bleeding Love comes from its mirroring of real life. Films like this can fall on extreme ends of the spectrum. More often than not they can be too serious and upsetting, but Bleeding Love understands that life isn’t one note.


Rating When Evil Lurks



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