Review: ‘Blood on Her Name’ Reinvents the Noir Playbook

dfn_BOHN_Poster_300In the moment, she doesn’t know what to do. But it’s only a moment, and then she steadies her nerves and takes immediate action.

Rather than call for help, Leigh Tiller (Bethany Anne Lind) decides to clean up her own mess, which happens to be a dead body on the floor of a garage. How it happened, or her own involvement, or possible culpability … none of that matters in the middle of the night. In the moment, Leigh must clean up the bloody mess and move on with her life.

Which isn’t so easy when you are the mother of a young man who needs to meet with his parole officer in the morning.

Directed by Matthew Pope with a sure hand, Blood on Her Name is an original concoction that reinvents the noir playbook. After her night of horror, Leigh faces the day with steely determination. Her priorities are set: her son Ryan (Jared Ivers) comes first … nothing else matters, certainly not her curdled relationship with her father, local lawman Richard (Will Patton).

Her own fate? That comes a distant second to her son, who is first and foremost in her thinking. And this is communicated beautifully by Bethany Anne Lind, who gives the performance of a lifetime as Leigh, whose nerves must be hammering her with every breath she takes. As her father, Will Patton manifests the role of a man who is positive that he is doing absolutely the right thing, always, even if others can’t see it. Elisabeth Röhm also delivers a knockout punch as a woman who is deeply affected by Leigh’s actions.

Visually, the film doesn’t much resemble any sort of classic noir. It doesn’t even try. Instead, night bleeds into day and day bleeds into night, as all the action unfolds in a nightmarish netherworld of controlled panic that bubbles up and bursts periodically, without warning.

Character-wise, Leigh is a thoroughly modern woman, somewhere between a hapless male lead and a deadly femme fatale. Men keep leaning on her, making her life more difficult, mostly just because they’re too clueless to even try and see things from her perspective.

Leigh’s tolerance for such abusive conduct has boiled away over the years and she’s not having it anymore. Her seething anger lies just beneath her sheen of determination and purpose, driving Blood on Her Name to a conclusion she might have seen coming.

The film opens at Studio Movie Grill Spring Valley on Friday, February 28.