Review: BLOOD ON HER NAME, Guilt Without Redemption

Editor, Canada; Montréal, Canada (@bonnequin)
Review: BLOOD ON HER NAME, Guilt Without Redemption

Leigh (Bethany Ann Lind) doesn't have much faith in the police. Her father was definitely corrupt (though still works as a cop); her estranged husband is in prison for stealing cars; her son is on probation after getting into a brutal fight with another teen. So when she accidently kills a man who came to her autoshop late one night, she has little reason to trust that the police would believe her when she would tell them she was acting in self-defense. So she decides to cover it up, and that leads her down a increasingly dangerous and psychologically damaging road.

Blood on Her Name, the feature debut by Matthew Pope, co-written with Don Thompson, follows Leigh as she tries to keep house and family together, while trying to rid herself of the guilt of her crime. Combining social realism and crime thriller elements, the film is intimate and intense, focusing on Leigh's state of mind, the complicated logistics of a cover-up, and the inability to escape the cycle of brutality when you're from a particular socioeconomic class in a particular place.

The film opens just a few moments after the killing; we never see exactly what happened, so have only what Leigh says, and what you learn of her character, to guess. And what happened seems to change slightly depending on Leigh's state of mind and who she tells. And her guilt is palpable and overwhelming, to the point of risking exposing herself to the victim's family. It builds scene-by-scene; the more she thinks about it, the more creeps into every part of her life, whether consciously or not.

But her anlready endless-cycle of problems are amplified, and all her hard work to get herself and her son out of trouble, it would seem, has all been for naught. The working class of small-town America have little chance to improve their lives when they are constantly beset by the police, who never really trust them. All these pressure see Leigh unravel, making mistakes, and less able to function and control as everything gets taken away piece by piece.

Pope turns the screws slowly and consistently. Even as she tries to put things rights, Leigh keeps making mistakes, and not necessarily stupid ones either; who among us would really know how to cover up a murder (even if it was self-defense), let alone keep the blackeness and guilt and remorse at bay? As we learn more about her past, we understand why Leigh hid the killing, even as her 'solution' looks to be worse than what she would have faced had she come clean. Lind gives a compelling performance as a woman who loses a piece of her sanity as someone finds each piece of the puzzle, especially in moments when her memories of childhood, and another coverup, rear their ugly head.

When things finally and completely fall apart, the climax provides a painful but inevitable conclusion to Leigh's desperation and fumbling efforts to keep herself and her son on a better path. Blood on Her Name shows not only how most of us could never cope with a terrible crime, but how those already under the thumb of the system can likely never escape it.

Blood on Her Name will be released in select US theatres and VOD nationwide on February 28th via Vertical Entertainment.

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