Bleeding Heart (2015) Poster

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Psychological Thriller Could Develop Characters but Offers Solid Genre Pleasure
jbhamilt-114 June 2016
Warning: Spoilers
If you're coming to this film because you enjoy the actresses, you won't be disappointed, because they give strong, thoughtful performances. An English actor unknown to me, Joe Anderson, is particularly strong in the limited role of an abusive boyfriend. Eli Gather is an ingenious choice in the other central role as May (Jessica Biel)'s boyfriend. A fifth role is woefully underdeveloped: Kate Burton plays May's mother, but she isn't given enough material to shade the portrait of psychological control she exerts over her daughter.

The story is cleanly laid out: May is a yoga instructor who lives with her boyfriend Dex in a residential studio that hosts the classes May leads. We first see her exploring the information that she has a biological sister from a mother she never knew: This is Shiva (Zosia Mamet), a "sexy massage" worker who lives with boyfriend, the psychotic Cody (Anderson). What's best about this noir representation of upper middle class and lower class L.A. are the scenes director Diane Bell writes for the May and Shiva as they reluctantly meet, go to a bar, and slowly, as they drive around (we need to see more of these locales) learn about the other, before May takes her home, where they meet the cautious, almost superciliously straight Dex, who has May on a tight leash he's only partly ready to admit exists between them -- these scenes make you aware of the possibility of borderline personality disorders the two central female characters share in their creepy relation with their boyfriends, who seem in other ways entirely opposite. The script, which results in an 84 minute film, needs to develop how the social scenes the characters belong in offer resistances to who they imagine they might be, but Bell has created a chamber piece for five characters, with three locations: Shiva and Cody's apartment (which includes a gun -- okay, that's a tired trope), May and Dex's studio, and the Santa Barbara house May and Shiva flee to when Cody almost immediately becomes possessive of his "girlfriend's" new sister. The three locations are crucial to the drama, but they don't allow the characters enough space to act out versions of who they are and what their developing relationships might mean.

Mamet's Shiva is a bit of a sludge: She doesn't seem to pick up on the possibilities this latent sister offers her (where is the discussion of May's spiritual practice? How else are we to understand it?), but rather siphons off the energy others project in her, and what's that all about? The film (perhaps channeling May too closely) circumspectly denies to us the representation of how Shiva goes about her job, so that the sex worker milieu becomes almost a fantasy projection of the audience's interest in the actresses. This strikes me as an impoverished craft decision on Bell's part. Mamet seems almost to be fantasizing a sex worker, but is stronger in her work with Biel's May, and Anderson's Cody. Biel, however, is suited very well to play the highly controlled, "bleeding heart" May, whose every thoughtful decision seems to leave her farther from a life that would sustain the soulfulness her yogic work projects for her. Bell shrewdly shows how cold is this life May and Dex have made with each other, and what might be at stake in May's escape from it. Biel shows us the fragility of that life West Coast spiritualism promises its adherents, and the price it pays in the beauty it so easily affords.

The cost is finally tragically high for May. It's a spare and understated close, but it satisfies our expectations.
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Love dramas like this
SillyGayBoy25 May 2016
I watched this film alone. I actually found myself yelling stuff at the screen. Something I never do. I was really into it.

Good dramas are like this. Keep you rooting for certain characters. The two sisters were great characters and I rooted for them the whole movie.

The story is in large part about an abusive boyfriend and the issues that it entails. The story and acting were top notch with great performances. I never had an issue with the acting.

I wonder how much this cost to make. It is a pretty simple story but so well executed. The best kind of story is simple but done well. If you like dramas and this type of story I would recommend.
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Sketchy pacing and inconsistent narrative hamper its well-intended message, even though the sisterhood vibe by the two leads is lovely.
quincytheodore20 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Family tie is a good hook for drama, especially if the two main characters are pretty endearing. The cast, albeit small, perform admirably to set strangely surreal characters. However, this is a simple story told in excessively cumbersome way, the slow pace and mundane script prevent any excitement from the first half, and even when it looks like it would gain momentum, it doesn't end up in satisfying conclusion.

May (Jessica Biel) finds her long lost sister Shiva (Zosia Mamet), but their lives are world apart. It's basically the entire premise and there are not many twists or shocking developments. What the movie does well is presenting these two sisters with modesty. Jessica Biel and Zosia Mamet look the part of siblings, they also have a good on-screen connection. Their relationship is heart-warming and even thought-provoking at times.

However, the movie takes a very sluggish approach. This may necessary to build up characters, yet the scenes tend to get tedious early on. Some interactions feel repetitive, such as the sisters' banters, which might be adorable but it can be quite overused, the abusive boyfriend who constantly bullies them and shallow use of alternative life style. It needs about one hour to get the momentum rolling, and it's still imperfect then.

Edi Gathegi and Joe Anderson play the male supporting characters, they do a presentable job considering their personalities are not as deep as the sisters. This is a drama through and through, it may turn into thriller slightly, although it doesn't know what to do when it gets there. The theme of violence or rape could be used more thoroughly instead of being another uncomfortable gimmick. It only partially succeeds in displaying female empowerment.

There's a delightful drama at heart with the sisters, yet the extremely sloppy pace and one dimensional direction only amount to mediocre showing. .
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Probably contains spoilers...
levi-stepanov12 November 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I don't often write 'formal' reviews of films I watch here, mostly because I am lazy. However, due to the current reviews out there that led me to watch this film to begin with I have to comment on it: My review of 'Bleeding Hearts': This movie was held out to be a reckoning point for women in prostitution. It has been said that Mamet's performance was the quintessential definition of a woman accepting herself for what she is and not caring what anyone else thinks about her. (who only had like 4 lines relating to how she actually felt about it).

After watching the film, however, I would like to disagree on several key points. Though Mamet's performance was definitely noteworthy, it had nothing to do with her profession as an on-again off-again 'massage' therapist.

This was a story of a woman caught in a shitty relationship with an abusive partner. A story that is far to common in real life. To reduce the plot to simply a story of a woman trapped in prostitution and looking for a way out is not only insulting to both Mamet and Biel, who were great in this, not to mention the writer, but, I think, also misses the larger message of the entire film itself, which is: that no matter what you think, if you are in an abusive relationship, there is always a way out, even if you can't see it yourself. This is definitely a film worth watching.
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The reason this movie had a 4.9 rating here is beyond me.
mickeythecudder9 November 2015
It currently holds a 5.0 rating but its still too low. Its a great drama that delivers. It has great performances and I enjoyed every minute of it. It doesn't deserve the 10 I gave it, more like a 7 or 7.5, but I just wanted to keep the balances. Some people might think it needed more character development but still, their actions are justified, what they say and how they react to things makes sense. It has a very realistic feel and it may gets annoying about how the characters handle things, but if you think about it, it is what most people would do, and it actually delivers the liberation it promises.

Im not a woman, so I don't have any personal reasons to like this movie, because it deals with abuse and stuff, and Im not a big drama fan either.. I watched this because I saw Jessica Biel, without being a Biel fan either, holding a gun in the poster and thought it would be an action flick, so I guess you could count on this review since a male action fan enjoyed a female empowering drama movie. Very much.
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Diane Bell's sophomore feature gets the very best from Jessica Biel and Zosia Mamet...
ClaytonDavis20 April 2015
2015 TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL: The intimate and calm nature of Diane Bell's "Bleeding Heart" is simply mesmerizing. Starring Jessica Biel as May, a yoga instructor who finds her biological sister Shiva (played by Zosia Mamet), who is a sex worker with an abusive boyfriend (played by Joe Anderson). The unlikely pair explores the boundaries of their new-found relationship, the identity of family, and the protection of one another.

Bell's handle of the subject matter is very impressive, as she chooses to focus on reactions in several key scenes rather than words. Having only one feature under her belt (the little seen "Obselidia" in 2010), for which she received two Independent Spirit Award nominations, Bell emulates the passion and demand of storytelling as seen by such filmmakers like Patty Jenkins and Lisa Cholodenko. Taking on double duties with writing the film's script, her exploration into these two female characters isn't as intricate or precise as you'd like. With an 80 minute runtime, there's likely a few more minutes of dialogue, coverage, or something additional that would have rounded out these two women a bit more.

One area that Bell doesn't lack is in her ability to get the very best work out of her actors. Jessica Biel may have finally found her vehicle. With an internalized and very subtle performance, Biel excels in her ability to find the very motivation of May. Her yearn for family, both with her sister and her boyfriend (played by Edi Gathegi, who you'll know from "Gone Baby Gone" and "X-Men: First Class") is richly profound, all leading up to a climax that will keep you at the edge of your seat.

You may all know the adorkable Zosia Mamet as Shoshanna Shapiro on HBO's hit-show "Girls," a role that she's confidently called her own in an ensemble that doesn't exactly allow her to shine. She sheds all her cute and innocent personas to inhabit the soul of an impenetrable woman. Mamet's work as Shiva is hands down the best performance seen by an actress this year yet. She doesn't play it safe or conventional as we've seen with other "hookers with a heart" stories in other films. She's unafraid to be judged by the audience; not looking for an alibi, simply guilty as charged as delivering one of the bravest turns of the year. It's very exciting to see her take on a role like this feet first.

As one of our more standard character creations, Joe Anderson as Cody, Shiva's boyfriend, is just mind-numbingly good. Anderson, who you may remember from films like "The Grey" and "Control," harnesses the energy of a Ben Foster-type, in a vile role that simply stands out.

"Bleeding Heart" is a fascinating film, though a tad predictable. If nothing else, it recognizes the under-appreciated work of Jessica Biel and Zosia Mamet, and places writer/director Diane Bell at the forefront of exciting indie filmmakers.

"Bleeding Heart" currently has no distributor.
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An empowering film with a great cast.
aporlando6 November 2015
What is it that ties ours hands thus keeping us from helping another human being; we each feel this urge to be a good person, but often stopping short of accomplishing anything. So many times we are pulled the opposite way by those interfering; for once can someone please have a spine, and stand up tall. Bleeding Heart filled these expectations, and in a big way.

There were several movies I wanted to watch tonight, and I am glad I picked this first. Jessica Beil and Zosia Mamet carried the movie with a relationship which showed superb acting, and supporting actors played perfect roles with setting up the stage of the movie.

A little known fact, the three brothers that made up Warner Brothers specifically chose to produce movies which had a point to them, hoping the audience would learn something. Watch this movie and let me know if you thought there were characters that their actions just turned your stomach inside out, while others in the script empowered you.
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Just watch the last 10min..........
bill-37-375312 November 2015
Nothing like putting a name to a movie to create that money grab. If Beal wasn't in this I would never of watched it........but I did regretfully. Beal , looks like poops in this too. what was up with that. if Yoga makes you look like that stay away from Yoga. Well , that is the one thing I did get from this movie. Boring , except for the last 2min. They just kind of smash their way thru a story line and the writing. Hollywood just doesn't care about quality anymore. It is obvious with all the poop pushed out like making cookie cutter pizza. Hey maybe Domino's should make movies. if you are bored and have nothing to do but kill time and brain cells watch this. but you're not missing a thing at ALL if you don't.
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A film of wasted potential
Gordon-1127 October 2016
This film tells the story of a yoga instructor who finds her long lost half sister with the help of a private investigator. The half sister is a sex worker and has an abusive boyfriend, so the yoga instructor makes it her mission to save her half sister.

"Bleeding Heart" has a rather unconvincing story. The main problem I find is that I can't be sure whether the half sister is really who she is supposed to be. The whole saviour mission looks more like a mid life crisis thing, rather than a mission out of blood relations. If Jessica Biel wasn't in this film, I would not have had watched it, and would have enjoyed it even less.
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..totally the real deal..
bjarias9 March 2017
..she really is impressive.. would be so easy to take the obvious way out and do the tried and true big-money course of Hollywood.. in this film we see yet another time how good an actor she truly is.. and it is great to behold.. it is no revelation it would be extremely hard to disguise how incredibly gorgeous she is.. but her acting talent just adds to her impressive allure.. how hard must it be to have had this woman in your grasp, and to completely loose it and let her go.. what an ordeal to have to bear.. this little film is mostly subtlety her, and it is worth the time spent watching.. she can do pretty much whatever she wants, but to her credit she looks for script/ character challenges.. bravo Jessica..
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Anticipated more
mitko19596 November 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I started watching this movie with great expectations. Remembering Jessica Biel in "The Truth About Emanuel" was one main reason for that. I enjoyed her performance and the physical resemblance of needed by the role. The plot although did not allowed her to demonstrate full talent. The performance of Zosia Mamet did not make me believe her character either. I am not familiar with her work in television. Her choice for the role was probably dictated by her physical appearance needed for the role. Since the plot was simple the character development should have been deeper. At least as much as it is needed to make me feel the pain of the "bleeding heart".
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Means well but isn't well..
BatmanFunReviews201823 September 2018
A yoga instructor looks to protect her sex-worker sister from her deadbeat boyfriend. Bleeding Heart stars Jessica Biel in a role and basically a movie that honestly wastes her both as an actress and as a character. I mean there are some horrible scenes in this movie where it tries to be funny but actually fails to be. The acting wasn't anything remotely good, the storyline was as dumb as it sounds and the overall film as a whole wastes a perfectly fine leading actress, the money studio put to even release this and the time of it's viewers who will eventually see.
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straight forward
SnoopyStyle22 October 2017
Yoga teacher May (Jessica Biel) approaches Shiva (Zosia Mamet) with news that they share a biological mother. Shiva was a foster kid after their mother died when she was 12. Her pimp boyfriend Cody is volatile and abusive. May starts to fear for Shiva and invites her to her adoptive mother (Kate Burton). May's boyfriend Dex is angry that she gave Shiva $1000 for rent. After getting out of jail, Cody threatens Shiva but she returns to him anyways.

This moves rather slowly and deliberately. I kept waiting for a surprise twist. I have at least three in mind but this movie just kept plowing ahead. It's like watching someone willingly walk into a buzzsaw. One questions the character. The movie needs to lay out May's life more clearly and give her a greater motivation. I don't know much about writer/director Diane Bell but she shows a bit of skills. The acting is solid. Everybody shows up. This does need something more and I'm not sure what.
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Getting into trouble for lending a hand to only family.
Reno-Rangan24 May 2017
It was actually a better film than I thought. But it should have been even better. Written and directed by a woman filmmaker and that revolves around two women. When a Yoga instructor makes contact with her sister for the first time since coming to know her existence, does not go well. At first, it was casual, but after observing her closely, she offers help in any way possible. That's when all the trouble comes out and the remaining film is to reveal how the tale concludes.

For a small film like this, including its short runtime, this film does not look boring. I said that because of the concept that you might feel familiar. There are twists and turns, yet most of the film is predictable, but not bad for watching it once. The cast, particularly Jessica Biel looked good, but the other woman contributed in the performance section. Started off like a drama, but ends with thriller. The film is not for everyone. Those who don't watch films regularly might find it interesting than film critics and film fanatics.

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