‘Bleeding Love’ Is Ewan McGregor’s Vanity Project to Launch His Daughter’s Career

Ewan McGregor is polished enough to establish a mood of unflagging realism, undaunted by a script that provides almost no opportunity to keep the momentum going.

Ewan McGregor and Clara McGregor in “Bleeding Love.” Courtesy of Vertical

In the unpleasantly named Bleeding Love, an estranged father (Ewan McGregor) and his deeply disturbed 20-year-old daughter (played by his real-life daughter, Clara McGregor) share a 14-hour road trip from San Diego, California, to Santa Fe, New Mexico. She chain-smokes, pops opioids, steals alcohol from a convenience store and self-indulges in an array of misery. She’s a mess, covered with tattoos, who overdosed that morning on drugs and resents her father’s insincere attempt to rescue her after years of neglect. He’s a 47-year-old ex-addict, too, who now works in a regular, responsible job as a gardener and outdoor landscaper, so guilty for the past torments he inflicted on his long-suffering wife and unhappy daughter when she was growing up that he assumes the responsibility for personally escorting her to a rehab facility in New Mexico. There are occasional tender moments here and there, but the film concentrates mainly on this unmatched pair’s exchanges inside the car—in execution, not exactly riveting.

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BLEEDING LOVE ★★ (2/4 stars)
Directed by: Emma Westenberg
Written by: Ruby Caster, Vera Bulder, Elle Malan
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Clara McGregor
Running time: 102 mins.


Like just about everything else these days that passes itself off as a movie, Bleeding Love moves too slow for its own good and hobbles its way to an inconclusive and unsatisfactory ending. One longs for originality or a moment, no matter how small, of discovery. But there is little insight provided by Ruby Caster’s sketchy, underdeveloped screenplay, and the first-time direction by Emma Westenberg constantly shows her lack of experience behind the camera. Every time the film comes closer to revealing some revelation about the inner problems that turned father and daughter to addiction, it deflates into another in an annoying series of contrived subplots introducing pointless tertiary characters. These unnecessary, less-than-fascinating interruptions serve no other purpose than to drag out the running time and warn any viewer who contemplates seeing America by car. Occasional glimpses of beautiful Western scenery are rare. The dominant impression is that American highways are largely inhabited by dangerous creeps just waiting to pounce.

There’s nothing creepy about the McGregors. The daughter, unfortunately, has not inherited Dad’s good looks, but his talent for easygoing naturalism shines through. Newcomers are always attracted to downbeat roles as lost, unfocused losers. Ewan McGregor is polished enough to establish a mood of unflagging realism, undaunted by a script that provides almost no opportunity to keep the momentum going. Emma handles the emotional turmoil gallantly. Bleeding Love is a vanity production in which the accomplished father wants to show off his daughter’s talent and give her the start she needs to launch her career, and she wants to prove to her famous father, inspiration and possible coach that she is good enough to meet his professional standards. Alas, the vehicle they’ve chosen to share fails to plunge the viewer any deeper than a surface level.                                                                                                          

‘Bleeding Love’ Is Ewan McGregor’s Vanity Project to Launch His Daughter’s Career