Director Emma Westenberg brings together real-life father and daughter, Ewan McGregor and Clara McGregor, in a film that etches the road to recovery and healing. “Bleeding Love” rests heavily on their earnest performances. While the film cranks up the volume a little too high to give Clara a moment to show off her acting chops, it is the ever-reliable Ewan who pierces the most with his quiet, searching anguish. Nevertheless, this would register as a minor blip in his filmography.

The pair’s intimacy with one another helps smoothen out a lot of rough edges in the film’s tired, uninspired depiction of a father attempting to reconnect with his daughter with a substance abuse disorder, who resists all help because he has rarely been there for her. The screenplay, written by Ruby Caster, Vera Bulder and Clara as well, doles out an assemblage of encounters with colourful strangers, as each interaction enables the central pair to trust and rely on one another. However, the weak and flat writing renders these individual episodes as having little personality and force of their own, revealing an obviousness in their connection to the film’s larger design.

Bleeding Love (2023) Movie Summary & Plot Synopsis:

The film begins with the father and daughter driving somewhere. We learn the father is taking the daughter to visit a painter friend’s gallery. The daughter used to paint but hasn’t been for a while. She says she doesn’t feel inspired anymore. It could be the effects of her addiction problem. The daughter is unwilling to go on the trip, insisting on her father to turn back and drop her back home in San Diego. When she stops the car to pee, she tries to flee, but the father catches up and stops her. Whenever she gets a chance, she smokes and chugs from a secret bottle of alcohol.

Their car breaks down. A passer-by, Elsie (Kim Zimmer), offers them a ride. She insists on talking to her brother, who she calls a great car mechanic. After initial protestations by the father claiming any pitstop would make them too late in reaching their destination, they accede to going. While the car is getting repaired, the daughter strikes up a connection with a guy, Kip (Jake Weary), whom she meets at a nearby party. She unhesitatingly goes to his house, lured by the possibility of drinks. As they are down for a few drinks, the father barges in and compels the daughter to leave with him immediately. The guy retreats when he is told the daughter is underage. Kip admits he is on parole and can’t afford to be in any mess.

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Bleeding Love (2023) Movie Ending Explained
A still from “Bleeding Love” (2023)

After some persuasion, the daughter slips into an AA meeting with the father. He talks passionately and mournfully about his regrets for being an absent father and how he will never forgive himself for his past addiction issues that ripped his family apart. But he is also essentially urging her to trust him, emphasizing he’s been through problems similar to hers and, therefore, he can help her out.

What is the father’s actual plan?

During a pee break, the daughter sustains a bite from something. The father tries to look for a pharmacy. A sex worker, Tommy (Vera Bulder), accosts him, enquiring if he needs her services. He is initially taken aback but when he tells her about the daughter’s situation, she proposes she can help out claiming she has experience. She gets into the car and examines the bite. She informs them it is a spider bite and tells them they should look for ice. The father offers her a ride. Tommy talks of how she is saving up to go to New York and pursue her acting aspirations on Broadway.

She says she’s even written a couple of plays. After Tommy gets down, she pauses in front of their car and does a short dance, rendering a vision of one of the daughter’s own paintings. The duo check into a motel and have a moment of fun in a pool. When he has gone out to bring ice, the daughter receives a call on his phone. It is then she discovers her father is taking her to rehab. They have a stormy fight the moment he comes back.

He asserts the seriousness of her situation while she insists it’s nothing extraordinary. He reminds her she overdosed and came to a near-death situation. Seething, she sneaks out of the motel and accosts a man outside a store, asking him if he can help her get high. The man takes her to his house, where she eventually passes out after getting high. The man and his partner dump her near the road. A van with a group of women rescues her, and she is able to reach out to her parents.

Bleeding Love (2023) Movie Ending Explained:

What Does The Daughter Decide?

The daughter beseeches her mother if she could come back home, but all she receives is a stony silence, with the latter insisting she contact the father instead and listen to him. Once he picks her up, the father and daughter share a tender moment. He urges her to take the driver’s seat and take them wherever she wants. He tells her it is her decision whether she wishes to return home or proceed to rehab.

The daughter had always believed her father didn’t really care for her. It was on a random day that she found her father would no longer be coming to pick her up from school, having decided to leave his family. All this while, she has been grappling with the feeling of abandonment and a persistent nudging feeling that told her he has no interest in her well-being, and this is why she is so opposed to his efforts to offer help.

She had been convinced he was yet again trying to dispose of her. She gradually realises he has always been there for her and is utterly proud of her and repents his absence from her life. Eventually, she decides to head for rehab. Initially, she feels hapless and storms out. When she finds her dad is still outside, she gets the pluck and is further bolstered that he will always be there for her.

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Bleeding Love (2023) Movie Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Wikipedia, Letterboxd
The Cast of Bleeding Love (2023) Movie: Clara McGregor, Ewan McGregor, Kim Zimmer, Jake Weary, Devyn McDowell, Vera Bulder
Bleeding Love (2023) Movie Genre: Drama, Runtime: 1h 42m
Where to watch Bleeding Love

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