Love Lies Bleeding

Love Lies Bleeding
An incredibly trasher exploitation film, featuring sex, steroid, violence, and Ed Harris munching on beetles.

Love Lies Bleeding

Release Date: March 15, 2024
Runtime: 01:44
Gym manager Lou falls for Jackie, a bodybuilder who is passing through town en route to a competition in Las Vegas.

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Love Lies Bleeding Review
Sean Kelly on Movies Reviews Podcast

A gym manager falls for a bodybuilder in Love Lies Bleeding. Lou () is a manager of a gym trying to escape her past relationship with her gun smuggler father, and beetle enthusiast, Lou Sr. (). Despite her estrangement from her father, Lou still maintains a relationship with her sister Beth (), who's in an abusive relationship with her husband J.J. (). Lou becomes enamored with bodybuilder Jackie (Katy O'Brian), who is passing through on her way to a competition in Las Vegas. The two soon begin a passionate affair that is soon disrupted by a horrible event.

Love Lies Bleeding Synopsis

Love Lies Bleeding is the sophomore feature film from co-writer and director Rose Glass (Saint Maud) and is a quite trashy 1980s-set queer exploitation thriller. The film introduces us to the protagonist Lou, as she is cleaning toilets and rebutting the advances of the clingy Daisy (). Lou's attention soon turns to Jackie, played by Katy O'Brian (The Mandalorian, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania), an incredibly jacked woman passing through the town on the way to a Bodybuilding Championship in Las Vegas. Lou injects Jackie from her stash of steroids, causing unnatural muscle growth, and the two begin a passionate love affair, as Jackie trains for the competition.

However, Lou's past of working for her crime lord father begins to catch up with her when the FBI begins sniffing around the gym. In addition, Jackie reveals herself to have an incredibly violent temper and goes to extremes to protect Lou and her sister Beth, after the latter is hospitalized. This results in Lou having to confront both her past and her father.

My Thoughts on Love Lies Bleeding

Despite being set in 1989, Rose Glass' sophomore feature is very much an exploitation film that would feel right at home on the 1970s grindhouse circuit. Apart from the lesbian sex scenes, extreme violence, and rampant steroid use, Loves Lies Bleeding demonstrates its trashy nature late in the film when Ed Harris' Lou Sr., sporting one hell of a skullet, expresses his anger by grabbing one of the horned beetles he keeps as pets and eats its in a single bite. This one moment demonstrates that Love Lies Bleeding isn't a film that should be taken too seriously.

While she has played a variety of roles since coming out as bisexual in 2017, ranging from J.T. Leroy to Crimes of the Future, Love Lies Bleeding is arguably a film that sees Kristin Stewart fully embrace her modern queer identity, as her character of Lou is androgynous in both name and appearance. This stands in contrast with Katy O'Brian, in a breakout role, who is quite a feminine character as Jackie, despite also being incredibly muscular. Love Lies Bleeding includes a fantastical element, where Jackie, fueled by the steroids she has been taking, experiences Hulk-like muscle growth whenever she in under duress.

Jackie's “hulking out” leads to a scene of extreme violence, the end result of which is probably more gory than the casual viewer of this film might expect. This moment also marks the film's transition from being a lesbian romance into a crime thriller, as Lou has to go into damage control mode to try and save Jackie from her actions. This all builds towards a final confrontation between Lou and her father.

I won't exactly call Love Lies Bleeding a sophomore slump for Rose Glass, but it does end up being somewhat less memorable than the religious horror of her 2019 debut Saint Maud. That said, both Kristin Stewart and Katy O'Brien give notable performances, with Love Lies Bleeding likely being the film that puts the latter on the radar. Now, if I can just get an answer to whose idea it was to give Ed Harris a skullet.

Trailer for Love Lies Bleeding

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.