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“Love Lies Bleeding” is as weird as it is wonderful

Director: Rose Glass

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Katy O’Brian, Dave Franco, Ed Harris

Rating: 3/5

Girls, guts and glory. Emphasis on guts.

Rose Glass’s sophomore effort “Love Lies Bleeding” (2024) is a cult classic in the making. It has all of the right ingredients: a stellar cast, a killer soundtrack, and some of the most visually intense gore in any A24 flick (eat your heart out, “Midsommar”!). The neo-noir thriller is a stellar addition to the production house’s repertoire, and will definitely be ranked among the likes of “Pearl” (2022) and “Talk to Me” (2023).

Set in New Mexico in 1989, “Love Lies Bleeding” opens on gym manager Lou (Kristen Stewart) who is cleaning up someone else’s mess (a running theme throughout the film). Lou feels trapped by her middle-of-nowhere town, where her primary concern is protecting her sister Beth (Jena Malone) from her abusive husband JJ (Dave Franco), and avoiding her coworker/obsessive ex-hookup Daisy (Anna Baryshnikov). She’s also the target of an FBI investigation because of her estranged crime-lord father (Ed Harris), but that’s another story that she definitely has no involvement in.

During a late night, Lou meets Jackie (Katy O’Brian), a runaway bodybuilder who dreams of finding stardom in Las Vegas. After a night of sex, drugs, and 80s synth-pop, the two become intertwined in each other’s lives. However, their sickly sweet (and lowkey kinky) romance turns sour after Jackie commits a heinous crime of passion, trapping the women in a cycle of violence that Lou tries desperately to avoid. The more they try to escape, the more suffocating the situation becomes, until they are both forced to reckon with their dark paths.

Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

O’Brian is easily the standout of the cast, with a performance that resulted in multiple rounds of applause throughout the film’s premiere at Sundance. Not only does the actress undergo a gut-churning physical transformation, but delivers a performance so unhinged that it is incomparable to anything else on film. 

Stewart also excels as a lead in a role she took due to its subversion of the “strong woman” narrative. “What does that mean?” Stewart asked Rolling Stone. “It means that we’re not actually letting women define themselves. It’s the assumption that we need to be empowered by the people deciding who gets to have perspective, that we have to provide something aspirational. It’s the lowest-hanging fruit there is. [Glass] was like, ‘Strong girl? Bodybuilding. Got it.’ Simple as that.” 

Besides the performances, the film is a standout due to Glass’ campy and chaotic direction. The artist is a visionary when it comes to daring cinema, as she strategically navigates brutal violence, gore and body horror. The film is also unabashedly queer: Glass knows her audience and plays to her strengths, crafting a film that is equal parts femme and fatale.

The editing is questionable at times, but when it works, it really works. It stretches a blanket of tension throughout the film, leaving the audience unnerved and on the edge of their seats. The cinematography is as bold as the subject matter, and never (and I mean NEVER) shies away from the gory, disgusting details.

“Love Lies Bleeding” is a film about the limits of human obsession, and how far one would go to seize power. Its cataclysmic climax may not resonate with all audience-goers, but its take on noir filmmaking through a queer lens is equal parts genre-bending and groundbreaking.

“Love Lies Bleeding” will have a theatrical release on March 8. Check out the official trailer here.

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About the Contributor
Grace Doyle
Grace Doyle, Associate Producer: #THAT
Grace Doyle is a senior 3+1 film, television, and media arts major from Dedham, Massachusetts. She works as production assistant on campus and has interned with 7News WHDH-TV and Tuff Gong Worldwide. She is an Associate Producer on #THAT and has previously served as a Music and Television Beat Reporter for Q30TV.

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