Movie Review: Love Lies Bleeding

By: Andrew Warren  |  March 27, 2024

By Andrew Warren, Staff Writer

In “Love Lies Bleeding,” director Rose Glass delivers a fresh twist on the portrayal  of a strong female protagonist, deviating from conventional norms. There are a handful of movies that come out every year attempting to do so, but how many truly have a STRONG female protagonist, with the physique of WWE stars? Not many. Most of the time, the audience is expected to suspend their disbelief and go along with the premise that a 120-pound (if that), conventionally attractive Charlize Theron can kick the crap out of some evil goons. If the film does have an overly muscly woman, she’s most likely playing a villain.Lou, played by Kristen Stewart, is a reclusive gym manager in New Mexico, whose life takes a dramatic turn when she forms a passionate relationship with Jackie, portrayed by Katy O’Brian, a bisexual bodybuilder with dreams of winning a competition in Vegas. Together, they confront Lou’s family troubles through violent and criminal means, ultimately finding strength in each other.   

This is truly a one-of-a-kind film, and not just because it’s about a lesbian bodybuilder. There are surreal elements that permeate  throughout the story. Some are aesthetic like the hairstyles and color palettes to  downright fantastical occurrences, such as Jackie’s physical transformations . These decisions help to deliver the film’s themes in a way that’s clear yet not overbearing. While not every surreal aspect worked in concert with the plot, the effort to differentiate this movie from a standard crime drama is certainly appreciated. 

The music done by Clint Mansell, reminiscent of 80’s synth style, effectively underscores the passionate emotion at the film’s core. However,  Stewart’s performance feels  tonally inconsistent with the heightened nature of the story. It would feel more at place in an Oscar drama about abuse. The other actors are more exaggerated in their mannerism and look. 

The heart of the film in the relationship between Jackie and Lou, which, despite the actresses’ chemistry takes time to completely engage the audience. Once the revenge plot unfolds, the movie narrative gains momentum. 

“Love Lies Bleeding” is only Rose Glass’s second film, but she’s already establishing herself as a filmmaker unafraid to take creative risks akin to auteur like Ari Aster and Robert Eggers. While the climax of the film feels a little undeserved in its tidy resolution, the overall product is admirable in its ambition and fearless vision.