Blood on Her Name

Review by Rich Cline | 3/5

Blood on Her Name
dir Matthew Pope
scr-prd Don M Thompson, Matthew Pope
with Bethany Anne Lind, Will Patton, Elisabeth Rohm, Jared Ivers, Jimmy Gonzales, Jack Andrews, Chandler Head, Tony Vaughn, Joshua Mikel, Bryant Carroll, Eric Mendenhall, Tim Hughes
release US 28.Feb.20
19/US 1h24

lind patton rohm

There's a refreshing simplicity to this gritty thriller, as filmmaker Matthew Pope uses well-worn but effective cinematic language to build suspense and a strong sense of unease. The way the script takes its time to deliver some key information maintains the mystery while diminishing the emotional resonance. But the film's soft-spoken style still gets under the skin as it explores the fallout from some very bad decisions.
After an act of self-defence in her garage, Leigh (Lind) methodically cleans up a pool of blood and disposes of a body. Shaken, she returns to everyday life with teen son Ryan (Ivers), who's on probation, and a strained relationship with her cop dad (Patton). But she also becomes obsessed with giving the dead man's girlfriend Dani (Rohm) and teen son Travis (Andrews) some closure. She understands that this will put herself and Ryan in danger. And she gets very different advice from her dad and her employee Rey (Gonzales) about what to do next.
The film has a hushed tone that reflects Leigh's sense of increasing desperation as events take some unexpected turns. Pope's direction is gritty, with an underlying intensity that feels like it might erupt at any moment. Emotions are so frayed that it's difficult to watch Leigh struggling to cope, especially she resorts to irrational, dangerous behaviour. This means that suspense sneaks up on us as the film gets increasingly nerve-rattling, leading to some harrowing physical violence.

At the centre, Lind brings a terrific sense of Leigh's barely controlled panic, a young woman who has had a tough life and is terrified that things might get even worse for her and her son. Lind's understated performance is powerfully gripping, adding layers to her interaction with the adept supporting cast. Patton is solid as always in a strong role, and the young Ivers has some terrific moments of his own. As another worried mother, Rohm bristles with raw intensity. And as Leigh's conscience, Gonzales adds some gentle steeliness.

As the interconnections between these people eventually become clearer, what happens is increasingly rattling on a variety of levels. At the centre are two mothers trying to protect their sons, but good people pushed into a corner sometimes do very bad things. The question is how far they'll go to make things right, and whether anyone has the nerve to break the cycle of violence. It may ultimately feel thin, but the punchy final sequence adds a nasty kick that leaves the audience thinking.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 24.Feb.20

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