Bleeding Heart stars Jessica Biel and Zosia Mamet as biological sisters who meet as adults. One is a very together yoga instructor, the other is a sex worker in an abusive relationship. The new connection between them leads to big changes in both their lives.
Joe Anderson plays Shiva’s boyfriend/pimp. Biel, as May, is in a yoga-enlightened relationship with Dex, played by Edi Gathegi. Making up the remainder of this small cast is Kate Burton as May’s mother and Harry Hamlin as one of Shiva’s johns.
The film opens with May writing in front of a mirror. She looks at herself as if she’s looking at another person, a missing person, who looks like her. This type of mirror image is prominent as a motif in the film. Biel and Mamet do look alike. They are believably sisters in every way, as much for their excellent performances as their appearance.
May searched for and found her biological half-sister. May is 10 years older than Shiva. She was given up for adoption. Shiva, on the other hand, was raised by her mother until the age of 12. When their mother died, Shiva went into the foster system.
When the two meet, the connection is immediate, especially on May’s part. May is instantly the big sister. She wants to protect her younger sibling.
Shiva is more guarded. Shiva’s led a hard life. She’s not ashamed of being a sex worker. She is intimidated by and afraid of the very controlling Cody, her pimp. Even so, she’s convinced he loves her. Like many women, she’s caught in an abusive relationship and doesn’t see a way out.
May tells Shiva she loves her. Shiva says it doesn’t count because May is a girl. May counters by saying, “You’re a girl. You count.” She also tells Shiva that she is a strong and powerful woman. As their bond grows, so does Shiva’s willingness to try to get away from Cody.
For the car buffs, May drives a vintage Rambler Marlin – a detail that adds a certain charm to the getaway attempts.
About half way through the film, Shiva shows May a gun that Cody keeps in a dresser drawer. It’s obvious from that moment that the gun will play a part in the resolution of the film. We don’t know how that will happen, or in whose hands, until the final seconds. Personally, I was rooting for Shiva to grab it and plug Cody right between the eyes.
This is a strong story, one that will resonate as true for a lot of viewers.
The film was written and directed by Diane Bell. It’s currently available from Amazon Video and Netflix and other streaming services. Bleeding Heart was released in 2015.