Love Lies Bleeding (2024) – Film Review

love lies bleeding film review (1)

Director: Rose Glass
Cast: Anna Baryshnikov, Kristen Stewart, Dave Franco
Certificate: 15

By David Reid

So are you in the mood for a crime thriller, featuring lesbian protagonists, on the big screen? Let’s put the question differently. How many previous films, in this genre can you list? Bound, by the Wachowskis, or David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive may spring to mind. For both we need to cast our minds back almost 30 years. You could say one is due, if not well overdue.

Love Lies Bleeding opens, at night, as the camera swoops down into a busy gym, run by Lou (Kristen Stewart),with lots of glistening, semi-clad, young athlete-types, making good use of the facilities, encouraged by the inspirational quotes adorning the walls, such as ‘ pain is weakness leaving the body’. A haunting score hints that, despite first impressions, all may not be well here. The opening scene sets not only the mood, but the tone of the movie extremely well- most of which occurs at night. Amongst the gym bunnies, Lou’s attention is drawn to Jackie, a hitchhiker heading to a bodybuilding contest in Las Vegas, a strong debut performance by Katy O’Brian. The mutual attraction is instant.

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“Threatening behaviour”

Coincidentally, Jackie has just found waitressing work at a local gun club, with the help of JJ (Dave Franco), who is married to Beth (Jena Malone); and Lou and Beth’s father, Lou Senior (Ed Harris). It quickly becomes clear that relationships within the family are strained and have become complicated over many years. Through her new fast-developing relationship with Lou, Jackie quickly becomes embroiled in family affairs.

The action is fuelled by the intensity of Jackie and Lou’s fledgling relationship. Their mutual dependence, with their very apparent individual vulnerabilities, lie at the core of the film. Although the location of the action is not specified, it is clear from the behaviour of Lou Senior’s loathsome persona and cosy relationship with the Police, that these characters are operating on the fringes of lawful society, where the use of violence and threatening behaviour is a part of daily life. Although not referenced directly, the Wild West never feels far away from the world created onscreen.

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“Sparse and clipped”

British Director Rose Glass delivers a worthy successor to her debut feature film, Saint Maud, a psychological thriller, filmed in Scarborough. The plot development is character-driven, with dramatic action sequences and plot twists aplenty, to sustain the audience’s interest. As we are drawn into Lou and Jackie’s world, onscreen chemistry between the leads is evident in abundance, aided by a compelling performance by Kristen Stewart. True to the noir thriller genre, dialogue is sparse and clipped; as actions speak louder than words here. As the plot develops, the violence can be lurid- even gruesome- at times. From the nature of some of the images employed, the Director appears to draw upon sci-fi influences, including An American Werewolf in London; David Cronenberg’s The Fly and The Incredible Hulk.

Vengeance is a central theme – in a further nod to both film noir and Wild West Western cinema. There is also a comic book quality to the style of direction, with regular close-ups of the actors and some use of handheld shots in the action sequences, which helps to bring the viewer in the world created by Rose Glass and her screen co-writer, Wereonika Tofilska. Whist it won’t be to everyone’s taste, for those open and ready to enter this world, this is a movie which will live long in the memory and has the makings of a cult classic.

Love Lies Bleeding is in cineams now

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