A murder mystery movie set in Duluth, Minnesota that follows the journey of a woman navigating her past and a Native American police detective searching for a killer. We review No Blood of Mine.
With her small trucking firm under threat from bankruptcy, owner Victoria accepts a loan from a North Dakota gangster to try and keep it afloat. When the business fails anyway, Victoria runs away to try and escape her past and her payments. Tracked down by the gangster, she is kidnapped and blackmailed. Left with a life-changing decision, Victoria finds herself having to choose between joining the gangster or having to defend herself against incriminating evidence that links her to the death of her wealthy Father’s murder.
In 1994, John Dahl’s “The Last Seduction” slow-burned its way into Hollywood movie history. A small budgeted film, it bounced around the festival circuit for a while, was passed over by distributor after distributor and was pretty much forgotten about. It premiered on cable TV without so much as a murmur but some studio executive was watching, had the intelligence and foresight to realise it was actually a great film and ‘The Last Seduction’ was opened in cinemas across London.
It went on to garner some of the best critical and audience reviews of any film of that year and was somewhat apologetically released in American theatres a short while later, where it became one of the sleeper hits of the year. Wesley Ellenwood’s gritty crime thriller ‘No Blood Of Mine’ is so reminiscent of Dahl’s 90’s classic that the comparison not only acts as a blessing but also acts as somewhat of a curse.
These type of female-led crime films, that were all the rage in the 90’s, just don’t seem to get made anymore. Probably because Hollywood think audiences can’t handle smart women developing complicated criminal plans and treating men like second-class citizens. So in that sense ‘No Blood Of Mine’ stands head and shoulders above the current crop of independent crime thrillers. Unfortunately, the curse is that it just isn’t quite as good as The Last Seduction
The film opens with our lead character Victoria, the very Fiorentino-esque, Sierra Schermerhorn driving through the cornfields of North Dakota to visit her grandmother. Broke and in debt, to a gangster loan shark Victoria is in desperate need of help so, as a last resort, she decides to visit her estranged, elderly but very rich father. Her hope is to sell him her failing business in order of getting enough money to pay off her debt but, having been born from an affair and distanced from that side of the family and their fortune, her visit is more in hope than expectancy.
The cast is huge and overall excellent. However, Schermerhorn gives a fine performance as the desperate Victoria, who may or may not know more than we are led to believe. Whilst not being as charismatic or gleefully evil as Linda Fiorentino in ‘Seduction’ who was bad from beginning to end, Schermerhorn does manage to successfully carry off the same femme fatale air. Meanwhile, Larry Yazzie as the efficient and thorough, Native American detective Dupree, is also a standout.
One problem I found with the film is that the pacing tends to be quite slow and ponderous, as it sets the scene and builds up a number of character backstories. Sub-plots include the jealous half-brother annoyed at Victoria’s sudden appearance and Detective Dupree’s search for a murderer and while all this is commendable it does lead to the film feeling a little longer than it actually is and a more aggressive editing process would have helped the film flow a lot better. However, there are enough twists and turns in the script (also by director Ellenwood) that manage to keep the audience interested and push these minor issues to the back of their minds as they await the conclusion.
The cinematography is generally very good with the use of lighting and shadows very effective especially towards the end of the film. Also, the use of handheld ‘Shaky cam’ techniques added an interesting and disorientating aspect to the film, which I found to be quite effective. The score, which was used sparingly, was extremely effective and helped add to the overall noirish atmosphere of the movie.
If you’re a fan of noir and murder mysteries then ‘No Blood of Mine’ is certainly worth your time and, despite not having the dialogue or stylishness of the very best of the genre, it is still a great addition. If Director Ellingwood had allowed his lead character of Victoria off the leash a little bit more and added more humour and classic banter to the script, we’d probably be talking about the best female-led noir since ‘The Last Seduction’ as it is, however, we are left talking about a very fine film in its own right.