Clara McGregor and Ewan McGregor in You Sing Loud, I Sing Louder (2023)

‘Bleeding Love’ movie review: road trip with Ewan and Clara McGregor

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Note: Bleeding Love was originally titled You Sing Loud, I Sing Louder when it premiered in Karlovy Vary.

A father embarks on an uneasy road trip with his teenage daughter after her near-fatal overdose in Bleeding Love (original title: You Sing Loud, I Sing Louder), which was introduced by stars Ewan McGregor and real-life daughter Clara McGregor at this year’s Karlovy Vary International Film Festival after premiering at SXSW.

This heartfelt feature debut from director Emma Westenberg is lightly written (from a story by Clara McGregor, Ruby Caster, and Vera Bulder) and at times uneventful, but bolstered by two captivating lead performances that dig uneasily into their character’s troubled souls. Clara McGregor, in particular, is a revelation in what should be a breakout role.

Bleeding Love stars Ewan McGregor as the unnamed father, a former alcoholic who was largely absent from the life of his daughter (Clara McGregor), even when he was physically around. Now clean and with a new family, he reunites with his daughter after she has a near-fatal overdose.

Dad plans to drive his daughter across the American southwest to a rehab clinic, though he hasn’t filled her in on all the details. Along the way, they meet a few colorful characters including a tow truck driver (former soap star Kim Zimmer) who lends them a hand, and a birthday clown (It FollowsJake Weary, Zimmer’s real-life son).

Co-writer Bulder has a scene-stealing as a sex worker who checks out the daughter after a spider bite in a most unfortunate location, and Travis Hammer appears as a liquor store patron who may not have the best of intentions towards the daughter.

But the bulk of Bleeding Love is left to the father and daughter as the film explores their hostile relationship. While dad is entirely well-intentioned, his daughter can’t see through a troubled past to let him into her heart. Affectionate black-and-white flashbacks capture a fondly-remembered relationship that has been lost to time.

And despite being only hours removed from a near-death experience, the daughter’s insatiable thirst for alcohol, pills, or anything else that will let her escape her current reality provides Bleeding Love a thin structure to hang its narrative.

Bleeding Love features some gritty cinematography by Christopher Ripley that evocatively captures its landscape, and director Westenberg has a great feel for the American wasteland setting. Still, there’s just not much going on here, story-wise: even more sparse than the typical road movie, the same material could have condensed into a thirty-minute short without losing much.

Two arresting performances keep Bleeding Love watchable, however, and the strength of the lived-in roles played by Ewan and Clara McGregor is enough to warrant a recommendation. It’s rare to see this kind of family dynamic played out by a real-life parent and their child, and the raw and honest work by the McGregors here is fascinating.

Bleeding Love (You Sing Loud, I Sing Louder)

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Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky has been writing about the Prague film scene and reviewing films in print and online media since 2005. A member of the Online Film Critics Society, you can also catch his musings on life in Prague at expats.cz and tips on mindfulness sourced from ancient principles at MaArtial.com.

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