Review ‘Love Lies Bleeding’

If you love unpredictable dramas gushing with sex, muscles and blood… girl, have we got the movie for you! Love Lies Bleeding comes from the bold and talented Rose Glass (Saint Maud) and serves up a lot of juice. Literally. The film follows Katy O’Brian’s Jackie, a body builder with a dream, as she falls in love with Kristen Stewart’s Lou, who works the desk at their local gym. Although this is certainly a love story, it’s likely the most unconventional you’ll ever see. And frankly, their relationship is merely a spark that ignites the wild string of events that follow.

The tone of this film is so unique and original that it’s hard to compare it to anything else. It’s dark, erotic, knows no bounds and doesn’t shy away from the great violence that comes with great strength. Glass plays with the theme of extremism, almost as if she said “How far can we take this story and how many times can we turn it on its head before we get to what feels like the end?” Ben Fordesman’s cinematography paired with its visceral sound design makes parts of this film feel like a dreamscape—or a nightmare. The visuals are incomparable and mesmerizing, at times tantalizing with body horror and often bringing us uncomfortably close to the grotesque. Glass isn’t afraid to take risks and get weird, delivering a film so potent with red hot artistry it’s impossible to look away.

Love Lies Bleeding

Stewart’s performance is frank, honest and so beautifully human. An incredible talent and authenticity flows from Stewart in every film but especially here, where she very clearly excels in her element. She’s charming, likable, real. You’ll laugh with her, cry with her, fall in love with her… and cheer her on as the acts unfold. Her performance grounds the film and is what justifies everything Lou does out of love for Jackie. This movie, despite its habit of dipping into horror territory, is surprisingly funny. And although it starts out as a love story between a bodybuilder aiming to compete at nationals and the front desk associate at her gym, this queer relationship is only a small fraction of the story this turns into. The second act of this film will tie you up by the wrists and ankles, then throw and send you down a deep dark abyss along with its characters. In the most horrifying, thrilling and enjoyable way possible!

Ed Harris is so genuinely terrifying in this film for so many reasons. His backstory, his appearance, his voice, his obsession with bugs… the list goes on. But, as Harris often does, he delivers a performance directly in line with the tone of the film and his character’s purpose to the story that it’s hard to deny he’s a perfect fit. In other words, he’s a master at his job. He plays effortlessly off Stewart, solidifying the father-daughter dynamic between them. The pair make the shifty relationship between them believable, real and tangible enough that when it finally reaches its boiling point… audiences will be shaking in their seats.

The highlights are Stewart and O’Brian’s performances, but the way this film is packaged in how it plays visually, audibly and aesthetically is undoubtedly why this was considered a festival darling in the 2023 circuit and why it will receive rave reviews and acclaim after its wide release next weekend.

Watch the trailer for Love Lies Bleeding below

A24 releases Love Lies Bleeding is in theaters across Canada on March 15th, 2024

[Review by guest blogger Jurgen Sosa]