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Review: Love Lies Bleeding (2024)

Love Lies Bleeding (2024)

Directed by: Rose Glass

Premise: Daisy (Katy O’Brian), a female body builder, enters into a relationship with Lou (Kristen Stewart), a gym manager and the daughter of a local criminal (Ed Harris). Tensions with Lou’s brother-in-law (Dave Franco) boil over.

What Works: Love Lies Bleeding combines a crime story, a romance, and a family drama. The parts work together with each element of the story complicating the others. This is a very good example of balancing character with plot. The story is driven by the character’s choices which are rooted in their internal motives and interpersonal relationships. The strongest element is the romance between Daisy and Lou. Katy O’Brian and Kristen Stewart have strong on-screen chemistry and the attraction between the characters is palpable. Love Lies Bleeding is sexually frank in ways that are viscerally sexy but not exploitative; the filmmakers use sexuality to create an impression of intimacy between the lovers. The world of Love Lies Bleeding is vivid and organic. The spaces have a grimy feel and the people are ragged and worn by life. The picture takes place in a rural location in the late 1980s and it is populated by characters who might be described as white trash. However, the filmmakers allow these people to be more than stereotypes. They have complicated families and meaningful interior lives. Daisy’s passion for body building is serious and so is the love story. Lou’s sister is in an abusive marriage and the family tensions eventually explode, pushing the plot forward. Once that happens, Love Lies Bleeding propels forward with the different narrative pieces working in symmetry. Ed Harris is cast as Lou’s father. He’s the villain of the piece and Harris is frightening but he also has moments of paternal tenderness that give the character some depth. Despite the seriousness of the subject matter, Love Lies Bleeding is also frequently funny. The humor is quite bleak but it adds some humanity to the characters and their circumstances while also alleviating the tension.

What Doesn’t: Love Lies Bleeding is highly styled and occasionally surreal. There are a few sequences, and one moment in particular during the climax, in which the film becomes absurd. These choices are deliberate and there is thematic sense behind them—the moviemakers visualize the characters’ feelings rather than their reality—but the surreal moments are at odds with the gritty and realistic images found in the rest of the picture.

Bottom Line: Love Lies Bleeding is a bold film that mixes character-driven storytelling with a wild visual style. The plotting is tight and unified while creating characters with psychological depth and allowing for unusual images and a vividly created story world.

Episode: #989 (March 24, 2024)