Love Lies Bleeding (Rose Glass, 2024, UK/USA)

Love Lies Bleeding is the second feature from British director Rose Glass, whose first feature - the horror film Saint Maud - was met with critical accolades. A co-production between A24 and Film4 in the UK, the film stars Kristen Stewart as Lou, a young woman managing a gym in the late 1980s. A new woman shows up at the gym - the vagrant bodybuilder Jackie (Katy O'Brien). The two spark a romance, and it soon becomes apparent that Lou is the daughter of Lou Sr., the head of a local crime syndicate that has several shady businesses in the area that act as fronts for drug and gun running.

With neither Lou nor Jackie in the best mental health, their romance begins to take a darker turn. We are in classic noir territory here - nobody is good, and the choices are between the bad and the somewhat less bad. While on paper Love Lies Bleeding is not particularly unique, it stands out for several reasons. The first is the performances of the three leads - Kristen Stewart, Katy O'Brien, and Ed Harris. All seem to be the physical embodiment of their roles on screen.

The second strength of the film is its set design - the time and place evoke the 1980s American southwest of our imagination. Supposedly Glass used Verhoeven's Showgirls as a visual reference point. There are also several psychedelic flourishes in the film - for example, when Jackie is bodybuilding, her strength seems to manifest in Hulk-like popping veins. This takes a surrealist turn at the film's finale, which is bound to polarize viewers. While Love Lies Bleeding follows the typical tropes of the film noir genre, and the film's finale leaves something to be desired, it is nevertheless a solid noir and one that deserves an audience.



Popular Posts