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‘Love Lies Bleeding’ offers shock, thrill in twisted story

Film blends violence, romance in bold tale about female bodybuilders

Moments of magical realism add intrigue and fascination to “Love Lies Bleeding”’s exciting plot. Courtesy of A24 Films
Moments of magical realism add intrigue and fascination to “Love Lies Bleeding”’s exciting plot. Courtesy of A24 Films

If you’re looking for something to watch on your next movie night, “Love Lies Bleeding” is the perfect pick. Rose Glass’s 2024 romance thriller follows Lou (Kristen Stewart) and Jackie (Katy O’Brien) in a “Thelma and Louise”-esque crime story as they commit and cover up a series of gruesome murders after falling in love and getting tangled in violent schemes. 

The film opens in a gym, rotating between close-ups of glimmering muscles and motivational posters. Jackie’s dream of becoming a professional bodybuilder is the catalyst for the plot, but the visuals are what truly stand out in this first scene. Every shot pops with vibrant colors and shimmering mirror reflections, showcasing one of the film’s greatest strengths: its blend of violence and beauty, making it impossible for the viewer to look away even in its gruesomest moments.

Beyond the film's stunning visuals, Stewart’s performance commands attention from beginning to end. Lou and Jackie first meet under the harsh lights of their gym’s parking lot in a classic cinematic moment. Swelling music and not-at-all subtle eye contact announce their romance to come. 

This lack of subtlety also characterizes the greatest strength of Stewart’s performance. Even in the smallest moments, like when she makes pancakes in the morning, Stewart’s facial expressions reveal her every thought. Her unrelenting expressions serve as perfect plot devices, nearly — and sometimes fully — exposing her and Jackie’s crimes at every stop of their journey.


But the film’s storytelling lacks the vulnerability and straightforwardness of Stewart’s acting. Underneath the main murder plot is a twisted backstory: Lou’s father (menacingly played by Ed Harris) is a well-known criminal wanted by the FBI. Lou was once integral to her father’s criminal operations, which is revealed through interpretive flashbacks, with hazy visions of the two firing guns under dark red lights. While visually appealing, this artistic approach at times detracts from the film’s main plot. 

Despite moments of narrative confusion, the film’s subversion of conventions adds to its overall charm. Moments of magical realism add intrigue and fascination to the story, such as Jackie’s veins and muscles taking on a living, monstrous quality. But those are brief and not fully realized until the film’s climax. 

Even so, “Love Lies Bleeding” packs a punch. The plot, for the most part, is fairly predictable, but its most important moments — and murders — are boldly delivered. While extreme violence runs rampant in the film, what makes “Love Lies Bleeding” different from most thrillers is its heart. O’Brian’s real-life bodybuilding experience brings authenticity to Jackie’s story, making her downfall all the more devastating to watch. 

O’Brian and Stewart inject a tale of violence, abuse and heartbreak with chemistry and love. Because of their bold emotions and Glass’s stunning visuals, it’s hard not to react out loud to what unfolds in “Love Lies Bleeding.” This larger-than-life film should be watched on the biggest screen possible. 


Gabriella Wrighten

Gabriella is a junior from Los Angeles, concentrating in English, Modern Culture and Media, and Literary Arts. If she’s not at the movies, you can find her coaching the Dodgers from her dorm, plotting her future Big Brother win, or perfecting her chocolate chip cookie recipe.

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