Bloodshot Heart wears its influences on its sleeve. The film plays like a 1970s giallo complete with odd and twisty camera work, obsessive relationships, and unbridled violence. As the plot develops, more influences can be seen leading to a disorientating film. The effect on the audience is palpable, but is it worth investment?
The story is about a man named Hans. He is a driving instructor who is trying to figure out what to do with the two most important women in his life. Matilda is a young musician who lives in the same apartment that he has become infatuated with. Meanwhile, his mother continues to exact a dominating presence in his everyday affairs.
The Australian film may have a familiar plot but it looks and feels almost seems otherworldly. Things start with home video footage. It is stylistic, but only gives the slightest hint of what is to come. From there, Bloodshot Heart is filled with vivid colors and has numerous scenes in tight interiors. This allows things to flow between genres and styles and never allow anyone watching to get too comfortable.
The constant stylistic changes lead to a story with plenty of twists and turns. The story is not the typical mystery filled with big reveals. It is an almost surrealistic and sometimes psychedelic tale. Bloodshot Heart never follows any audience expectations. It will be erotic and suspenseful one scene then switch to an obsessive thriller in the next. It is hodgepodge of Ozploitation films and Hitcock-like paranoia.
Some may get lost in this confusing style of storytelling. Bloodshot Heart can be unashamedly style over substance at times. The film is as much a visceral experience as it is an unfolding story. There are clear themes of lost love and grief, but the blurring of fantasy, reality, and inspired filmmaking can confound and frustrate. It gives the audience questions with no obvious answers.
Therein lies the charm of Bloodshot Heart. The tangled narrative perfectly mirrors the pain and violence that is Hans. Nothing is as it seems and the entire thing is difficult to comprehend. Much like the main character, the viewer will have to go to extreme lengths to follow what is happening. Even then, there are no guarantees.
Those who do stick with the film and work at deciphering its plot will be in for a Lynchian treat. Bloodshot Heart is entertaining, thought provoking, and yes, frustrating. It is a rare case where things are all over the place, but still manages to be engaging. The script also demands attention from the attention of anyone who is watching.
The Chattanooga Film Festival takes place from June 24 – June 29
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