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The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

Campy, Bloody, Sexy: Love Lies Bleeding is The Crime Thriller the Gays Needed

Clarice Claiborne / Hilltop Views
Kristin Stewart and Katy M. O’Brien as Lou and Jackie. The film centers around their volatile but devoted and loving relationship.

This review will contain spoilers!

A24 returned to theaters internationally on March 8 with “Love Lies Bleeding,” a surreal crime thriller that doesn’t shy away from the guts, the gays and the displays of queer sexuality. I had been anticipating this film for a while, given A24’s esteem and the film’s star studded cast. Once the credits rolled, I walked out of the theater more than pleased.

“Love Lies Bleeding” comes from English screenwriter Rose Glass, director of the psychological religious thriller, “Saint Maud.” I thoroughly enjoyed “Saint Maud,” and that’s part of the reason why I watched “Love Lies Bleeding” in the first place. Her films are just surreal. The mundane moments are juxtaposed with intense scenes of violence, derealization, and active trauma, overlayed by an eerie score. Glass’ movies make me uncomfortable in the best way possible. 

The film’s soundtrack, color palette and cinematography as stylistically reminiscent of movies by the Coen brothers and David Lynch. However, this movie isn’t bogged down by its influences and stands well on its own.

“Love Lies Bleeding” is led by Kristin Stewart and Katy M. O’Brien of “The Mandalorian” and the “Ant Man” franchise. Ed Harris, Jena Malone and James Franco also join the cast. Stewart has been out as gay since 2017, and O’Brien has been married to her wife since 2020. It’s refreshing to see a film about the LGBTQ+ community led by those actually a part of the community. While Stewart and O’Brien are the driving force of this movie, Harris also offers a stellar performance that made my skin crawl. 

Lou, played by Stewart, is the movie’s protagonist, a pluckish butch lesbian who works a dead end job at a bodybuilding gym. Lou’s life is gray and uneventful, until she meets Jackie, played by O’Brien, an ambitious bodybuilder who is determined to win a bodybuilding competition in Las Vegas. Their relationship is electric, a total emotional roller coaster, and ultimately opens the door for violence. After Jackie kills several people in fits of passion, Lou is there to clean up the crime scene as the plot descends into chaos. Stewart and O’Brien have an undeniable chemistry that is the heart and soul of this movie. They portray a relationship that is infinitely complicated, occasionally toxic but ultimately loving. 

The plot of “Love Lies Bleeding” is a pressure cooker, growing more tense as each scene progresses. Jackie ends up employed by Lou’s estranged (and crime lord) father, Ed, which spells out nothing but trouble. The breaking point for both Lou and Jackie is when Beth, Lou’s sister portrayed by Malone, is put into a coma by her abusive husband JJ, played by Franco. 

“Love Lies Bleeding” takes the time to portray this abusive relationship with tact and care, ultimately giving the abuser exactly what he deserves.  

After JJ is killed by Jackie while in a steroid-induced rage, the pace picks up. This movie doesn’t shy away from grisly violence, but it’s never excessive. Each body that piles up contributes thematically and advances the plot. All of this culminates in an explosive conclusion that wraps everything up nicely.

All in all, “Love Lies Bleeding” is a must see, and I will definitely be rewatching soon. This film earns a well deserved 5 out of 5 goats.

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