Pope, who co-wrote the script, proves adept at keeping tricks up his sleeve, unraveling things patiently: Leigh’s (not as) complicated (as it thinks) relationship with daddy, her background and the details of the murder. The filmmaker ratchets up the tension, skillfully pulling us into Leigh’s claustrophobic world, a world of morally ambiguous (to put it kindly) characters. He stages sequences with the confidence of a more experienced director: a close call in the victim’s garage; a powerful father-daughter confrontation; an intense encounter with Dani; a brutal kitchen face-off.
“The filmmaker ratchets up the tension, skillfully pulling us into Leigh’s claustrophobic world…”
Pope is also wise enough to keep the focus on his lead. Whether throwing up after hearing a voicemail or (rightfully) punching a man in a bar, Bethany Ann Lind commands our attention throughout. Stoic and resolute, she makes the guilt gnawing at her palpable. The rest of the cast holds up – particularly Patton, the screen veteran that he is, radiating gravitas.
There are times when the narrative’s proverbial “feet” become a bit wobbly. The flashback sequences to Leigh’s youth are obvious and unnecessary. Its ruminations about guilt, and the twisting of ethics in a morally-corrupt society have all been done before. An injection of self-aware humor here and there would’ve been welcome. Yet Blood on Her Name is a fine showcase for its star, and a sturdy debut from a director to watch.
"…it doesn’t quite draw blood, but you’ll sure remember her name"