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Film Review: LOVE LIES BLEEDING (2024): Rose Glass’s Crackerjack Thriller Showcases Traces of Film Noir and Two Fantastic Lead Performances

Katy O Brian Kristen Stewart Love Lies Bleeding

Love Lies Bleeding Review

Love Lies Bleeding (2024) Film Review, a movie directed by Rose Glass, written by Weronika Tofilska and Rose Glass and starring Kristen Stewart, Katy O’Brian, Ed Harris, Jena Malone, Anna Baryshnikov, Dave Franco, Eldon Jones, Catherine Haun, Orion Carrington, Matthew Blood-Smyth, Keith Jardine, Jerry G. Angelo, Tait Fletcher, Roger Ivens, Kim S. Monti, David DeLao and Mikandrew.

Rose Glass’s new noirish thriller, Love Lies Bleeding, starts off with a lot of mundane scenes that pay attention to seemingly minor details. Watch attentively because all these little aspects of the characters’ lives have something to say about the characters themselves. In 1996’s Bound, a flat-out masterpiece about two female lovers trying to get away with murder, there was so much stylishness on hand that the movie ended up becoming one of my favorite films of all-time. Rose Glass is now a major director to watch because Love Lies Bleeding ranks right up there with Bound as a thriller of great significance in the world of over-the-top noirish suspense films.

Kristen Stewart stars in the film as Lou, a gym worker. Lou’s mom is no longer in the picture for reasons we don’t know right away and Lou’s dad, Lou Sr. (the incomparable Ed Harris who has long hair in this movie), is a shady criminal who pays off the cops to keep the authorities off his trail. Lou’s sister, Beth (Jena Malone) has been beaten pretty much to a pulp by JJ (Dave Franco) when Lou decides she’s had it with JJ.

Enter a female bodybuilder named Jackie (the amazing Katy O’Brian) who is on her way to a competition in Vegas but is otherwise down-on-her-luck. Jackie hooks up with the sleazy JJ to get a job. Soon, Jackie meets Lou and the pair seem to have a real connection. Steamy romance between Jackie and Lou ensues as the two find they enjoy each other’s company. But, Lou will eventually find out Jackie slept with the loser, JJ. In the meantime, because JJ beat Beth straight into the hospital, Lou hates JJ with a passion and Jackie kills JJ without giving it much thought. Jackie knocks a whole row of teeth right out of his mouth before he dies.

This is the type of movie that, as a critic, one must know which plot details to reveal and which ones to keep a secret. This film’s story line is a masterclass in storytelling with so many twists along the way that you may need a scorecard to keep up with them. Early on, a scene where Lou cleans a toilet is ultra realistic and disgusting and the director keeps the audience invested in the characters thanks to fine performances by Stewart and O’Brian. Both stars will keep the viewer wondering which way the characters will turn next.

Even if I told you that Lou and Jackie try to dispose of JJ’s body, it wouldn’t be giving too much away because there’s so much more to come after that revelation. If I told you there’s a witness to the crime of sorts named Daisy (the perfectly cast Anna Baryshnikov) who is a dim-wit with a romantic interest in Lou, I wouldn’t be giving away too much either. But, I’ll stop there with revealing plot developments.

The story line is the greatest asset to Love Lies Bleeding. A female bodybuilder like the one O’Brian portrays is an interesting character. It’s intriguing that she’s poor and she’s fighting for her survival. It’s also fascinating that this character would do anything for a girl she’s just met (Lou), including committing murder. But, Glass makes it all somewhat believable all the way up until the surprising last moments of the film where Glass pulls out all the stops with one of the wildest, most intense and most unpredictable recent bizarre endings I’ve seen in a thriller.

Stewart and O’Brien capture the love their two characters have for each other perfectly in the early scenes. As the film continues to reveal its layered story line, it’s easy to have doubts that they’ll be able to move on with their romance after some key occurrences within the picture. That’s the beauty of the movie as it keeps the viewer guessing if the lead characters can make it against all odds.

Ed Harris is the icing on the cake as the cold, vicious father who could, perhaps, kill his own daughter. Lou Sr. is another character whose motives are hard to pinpoint. Harris is filmed in such a sinister way by the cinematographer that one is pretty certain he will be a major bad guy here but bodies pile up and it soon becomes a question of who will remain loyal to whom? Glass offers no easy answers here and her work on this film is certainly of Tarantino-like quality in terms of the precise and offbeat direction.

Love Lies Bleeding doesn’t pull no punches and never cops out with the themes and topics it brings up. The direction is appropriate to create the mounting suspense which the film successfully builds. O’Brian and Stewart are the glue that keeps it all together and are more than properly supported by Harris and the rest of the stellar supporting cast who all play their roles to a tee.

Not since Bound has a thriller been this unnerving to watch. Love Lies Bleeding is the type of movie that is ugly to watch at times for its gruesome content yet the viewer won’t be able to look away from the screen at any given moment. My one criticism is that when the movie gets to Vegas, I would have liked a different turn of events to have occurred in those moments. Still, what Glass and co-writer Weronika Tofilska have done with their film is that they have made one of the most compelling pictures of 2023 to date. This is a real triumph in the art of screenwriting, above all else.

Rating: 9/10

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