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Movie Review: Love Lies Bleeding


“These violent delights have violent ends” - William Shakespeare

If I were to explain to you in detail what happens in this film and then tell you it’s one of the best love stories I’ve seen in a long time you would likely be perplexed and maybe a bit concerned. And you’d be right to feel that way because being the best love story in a good while doesn’t mean the love these characters portray isn’t absolutely poisonous, because it is. They demonstrate a passion for one another, a kind of devotion that is, in theory, highly sought after only to discover it is a swiss cheese kind of emotion riddled with holes. It is sexy and sweaty. It is dangerous and violent. It is relatable as well as completely insane. It is an exaggerated look into the kind of love that is unchained and impending. 

This is the kind of story you hope to find among the pile of repetitive rom-coms and raunchy-comedies and poorly edited action movies. It’s what you hope is lying just underneath the jump scare filled, ninety-minute horror trope passing itself off as something worth your attention. It is risky and potentially off-putting as it showcases extreme violence, explicit sexual encounters and metaphorical fantasies that feel bizarrely appropriate, somehow. 

Love Lies Bleeding is at its core a modern day love story. It features two characters you want to root for. You hope they make it. But then things go as bad as bad can get and then somehow manages to get worse. And it’s them causing it. They’re digging their own graves but hoping for mercy and it’s a volatile concoction of abuse and manipulation and that’s just the start of it. 

Lou is a quiet, reclusive gym manager just gliding from day to day. That is until Jackie walks in and turns her world upside down. It isn’t long before they begin a passionate relationship together as they discover who the other person is. Lou is wandering through life as Jackie pursues her dream as a bodybuilder hoping to win her first competition in Las Vegas. Lou sees her life with Jackie as a means to escape but unfortunately Lou’s reality is complicated, stifling, and as we quickly learn, violent and frightening. Jackie takes on the role of protector for Lou and sees the pain she endures at the hands of her own family and it enrages Jackie into action. What follows is a drugged rampage of bloody retribution, familial terror and impulsive justice. 

Rose Glass, writer and director of Love Lies Bleeding, is a fresh voice in the zeitgeist of remakes, sequels and prequels. Her debut feature, Saint Maud, is an underrated, quiet horror film about the psychological dangers of extreme beliefs becoming someone’s entire personality dictating their every decision. Love Lies Bleeding features the cerebral psychosis of Saint Maud but replaces its quiet nature with a more headstrong, bloody demonstration of obsession and infatuation. Where the character of Maud delved into her own polluted mind, Lou and Jackie move impetuously with their emotions dictating their first, second and third decision hoping it resembles some kind of plan. As toxic as the families they left behind are, they themselves are just as frenzied and dangerous. They are unfortunately products of their environments. 

With her second feature length, Glass tosses a flame onto a gasoline soaked pile of bad decisions creating this insane ride of extreme violence and problematic family matters. Together the characters of Lou and Jackie are dynamite and a matchstick constantly on the verge of exploding. And when they finally do blow it is a chain reaction of chaos that is viscerally thrilling to experience and Glass takes us on this ride with complete confidence that she knows where this whole wonderful mess is heading. 

As the story concluded it left me with an odd kind of glee because what I just saw was anything but a traditional happy ending but it still somehow finishes with a satisfying crack over the head. The story abuses its characters and us as the audience for supporting such unstable individuals. It’s almost as if it reaches a point in the story when it checks to see if we’re still holding on and realizes it can’t shake us off so it decides to see just how far we are willing to go. 

Kristen Stewart performs aimlessness beautifully and insatiable love with gusto. She is thrilling to watch going from timid and uninvolved to strong and threatening all at the behest of her deplorable excuse of a father. Stewart is undoubtedly a blast to watch but this is absolutely Katy O’Brian’s time to shine. With every new scene she becomes more and more massive in physical presence certainly but it’s the emotional turmoil of anger and love that drives her character and O’Brian is a force of loving madness that is a sight to behold. She embraces the beautiful absurdity of this maniacal love story and dives headfirst into the criminally driven violence quest hoping to find her purpose in life and love. Even if she has to kill anything that threatens her hopes of a life with her newfound lover. Together they are the chaotic good and they are ridiculously fun to watch as they become more and more unhinged as the threads that bind them to their horrible pasts begin to break. 

Love Lies Bleeding is insane at times and it’s all the more enjoyable because of it. The characters are uninhibited car crashes just begging you to watch the mess of it all. It leads you down dark paths of drug fueled horror in hopes of finding the light at the end as a means to achieve a lifelong dream. And if these hellbent women find themselves in each other’s embrace in the end, it begs the question of was it all worth it? That’s for you to decide. In the meantime, enjoy the ride and hold on because this is a relentless, savage, pulpy love story with little concern about your hopes for where it all ultimately ends up. It’s going where it’s going and it’s doing so with maximum ferocity. 

Rated R For: violence and grisly images, sexual content, nudity, language throughout and drug use

Runtime: 104 minutes

After Credits Scene: No

Genre: Action, Adventure, Crime

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

Directed By: Rose Glass

Out of 10

Story: 9/ Acting: 9/ Directing: 10/ Visuals: 9

OVERALL: 9.5/10

Buy to Own: Yes


Check out the trailer below:


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