REVIEW: Love Lies Bleeding

To say that no trailer could have adequately prepared me for the intense gore, smut, and hilarity of Love Lies Bleeding is a major understatement.

This past weekend, I attended a screening of Love Lies Bleeding, the recently released film by Rose Glass starring Kristen Stewart and Katy O’Brian, at the Michigan Theatre in downtown Ann Arbor. The movie follows gym manager Lou (Kristen Stewart) as she embarks on a whirlwind romance with bodybuilder Jackie (Katy O’Brian), finding themselves at the center of a series of homicides.

I decided to see this movie on a whim after my original plan to watch Drive Away Dolls was foiled by its unavailability near campus. Apart from a cursory glance at the trailer, I went in blind, a decision I’m grateful for after experiencing this bizarre yet enthralling flick. The majority of the audience seemed to share my sentiment, as we collectively gasped, screamed, and burst into laughter in response to the sheer shock factor. It may sound dramatic, but it’s the truth. As a fervent movie enthusiast, this viewing experience fulfilled my need to engage with the screen, surrounded by a predominantly queer and female-presenting audience, fostering a sense of camaraderie.

The remainder of this review contains minor spoilers, so I recommend stopping here if you wish to see the movie without further knowledge of its contents, which I highly recommend.

Love Lies Bleeding was a tight 104 minutes, maintaining a brisk pace without allowing the plot to meander. Following a year of films that took their time (looking at you, Oppenheimer and Killers of the Flower Moon), I welcomed the prospect of a movie I could watch without needing multiple bathroom breaks. All jokes aside, the pacing worked beautifully, keeping me deeply engaged while still delivering surprises.

Some artistic choices didn’t quite satisfy me, particularly the part where Jackie grows to fifty feet tall, followed by Lou joining her in frolicking through the clouds after escaping from Lou’s shady criminal father. While I understood the symbolic purpose behind this growth, I found it a bit too on-the-nose, detracting from the grounded, realistic elements of the story. Similarly, while I comprehend the intention behind Jackie’s muscles bulging and growing due to her increasing self-confidence and steroid usage, it significantly altered the movie’s tone, adding a science-fiction element that made the overall story feel disjointed.

I must admit that the ‘point’ of Love Lies Bleeding, as assumed in every movie, may have eluded me… but I couldn’t care less. This was the most enjoyable and magnetic theater experience I’ve had since the release of Bottoms, another favorite among the queer female community. The increasing release of movies featuring queer women across genres and exploring the intersection of these identities excites me immensely. This somewhat absurd yet enjoyable thriller excites me about the potential of queer cinema in the 21st century – the lines between mainstream and queer media are blurring significantly. 

Featured image available courtesy of Google Images. Love Lies Bleeding is now playing in theatres. 

Arlee Bay

Arlee Bay is an arts student who is deeply passionate about theatre, music, and film. She is heavily involved in the student theatre scene on campus and is greatly enthused to continue exploring the remarkable art that Ann Arbor has to offer, both on campus and off. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, arranging flowers, hosting charcuterie nights, and telling people that she didn't enjoy Oppenheimer.

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