Love Lies Bleeding (2024) | Review

A well-rounded cast, powerful visuals, and a healthy amount of weirdness makes Love Lies Bleeding a hearty recommendation.

love lies bleeding poster
Source: The Movie Database

Synopsis: A gym owner (Lou) starts a relationship with a bodybuilder, who is quickly dragged into Lou's volitile family drama and criminal past.

Director: Rose Glass
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Katy M. O'Brian, Jena Malone, Dave Franco, Ed Harris

A well-rounded cast, powerful visuals, and a healthy amount of weirdness makes Love Lies Bleeding and fun watch for everyone interested. Familiar elements of the rustic crime story have just enough crafted onto them to save this from becoming run of the mill and director Rose Glass looks to have a very bright career ahead of her.

Kristen Stewart continues her voyage through interesting indie dramas as gym owner Lou, who is becoming detached from her family and their shady crime past. She becomes infatuated with bodybuilder Jackie (Katy O'Brian) and they quickly strike up a passionate romance full of chemistry between the two actors. JJ's world revolves around a bodybuilding competitoin in Vegas, which is put in jeopardy when Lou pushes steroids to improve Jackie's development. Things move a little too fast in this department given the film's modest time span and the topic of 'roid rage' spurring a character to drastic actions hits close to my professional wrestling fandom and the various tragedies steroids triggered in my developmental years.

I would have liked to spend more time in the bodybuilding world and am a strong advocate of film's educating their audience about interesting facets of small worlds (see the intricate working of the fruit market in Jules Dassin's Thieves' Highway for a dynamite exmaple). However, Jackie's trip to Vegas changes up the action with some fantastic visuals as her steroids rattle her in what should be her shining moment – audio editing, lighting, camerawork, and, of course, magnificent work from O'Brian herself coming together in a delightful segment. I also admit staying there would add time to a lean story that really has Lou's crime family relatives at the beating heart of it.

love lies bleeding screencap
Source: The Movie Database

Dave Franco and Ed Harris are fantastically grubby, and quickly get audiences against them – Franco's JJ by being a womanising wife beater, and Harris' Lou Sr through his wild hair style and massive bug collection (which he is eventually driven to take a bite out of). Special mention goes out to Anna Baryshnikov who is Lou's needy and deluded (though never stupid, it's important to add) ex Daisy. Nervous laughs and sullen looks are abound as she tries to win Lou back from Jackie and she is thankfully not lost among the more established actors.

Everything is safe and solid on the surface, although there is something strange bubbling under the surface of Love Lies Bleeding:

  • Striking red cutaways in Lou's mind keep bringing her back to her father
  • A ravine used as a 'dirty work quiet place' seems endless and dreamlike
  • And Jackie's muscles seem to pulsate unnaturally as she trains for her contest

Most of this is useful world-building for Lou's disasterous family history, although the film's ending pitches something wild that I (mostly) was on board with. The film's tone oddly seems to lighten as events become worse, and what starts as a rough-and-tumble romance evolves into Coen-level crime silliness. Everyone in my screen rolled with these changes well and I've never heard such shocked laughed at a character's demise before. A few lines fall too awkwardy than I'd have liked, but still earned smirks rather than chuckles.

Love Lies Bleeding has a lot going for it and is a definite recommendation from me. It will will quickly win its die hard fanbase through its lead romance, messy violence, and tricky balance of the humourous and the horrific. Solid work from its established actors and great work from those I'm less familiar with mean that on my seemingly never-ending 'look out for' list, Rose Glass has pushed her way to the top.

Source: YouTube