This review is based on a screening at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival.
Love Lies Bleeding is a steamy crime thriller that goes beyond traditional genre boundaries. This film pulsates with desire, presenting even non-sexual scenes through an erotically charged lens. Set in late ’80s New Mexico, the story revolves around Lou, brilliantly portrayed by Kristen Stewart, and her entanglement with Jackie, played by Katy O’Brian.
A Departure from Rose Glass’ Previous Work
Rose Glass, known for her debut feature Saint Maud, directed her violence inward in her previous work. However, in Love Lies Bleeding, the characters wear their desires on their sleeves. The plot introduces themes of bodybuilding, repressed memories, and dangerous liaisons, creating a raw and intense narrative.
An Explosive Mix of Passion and Violence
The film is a relentless blend of passion and violence. The powerful and immediate chemistry between Lou and Jackie sets the stage for a delirious 30 minutes of bed-breaking sex scenes and intense imagery. The story takes an unexpected turn when Jackie’s passion for bodybuilding leads to a supernatural transformation, hinting at the reckless ways in which director Glass manipulates the narrative.
A Fluctuating Tone and Style
The movie’s violence and sexuality are equally potent, with the sound design and gore effects creating a visceral viewing experience. At times, the film’s tone fluctuates, combining moments of menace with surprising elements of comedy. This unpredictability adds an extra layer of complexity to the characters’ already scrambled lives.
Complex Characters Driven by Emotion and Impulse
Both Lou and Jackie are complex characters, each harboring their emotional baggage and potential for violence. Kristen Stewart’s portrayal of Lou’s repressed rage is captivating, while O’Brian’s performance as Jackie brings forth a character unafraid to act on her desires – regardless of the consequences.
A Deep Dive into Unconventional Filmmaking
Love Lies Bleeding is an exploration of the unconventional, delving into the kinkiest recesses of its creator’s mind. The film’s unique blend of desire, violence, and a touch of the bizarre makes it a pure “WTF?” experience in the best possible way.