Love Lies Bleeding leaves a lasting impression

Sat. March 16, 2024 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn

Love Lies Bleeding is the latest offering from entertainment company A24 and like many of their films this one ventures into a unique storyline. Set in 1989, this unpredictable and sometimes shocking tale begins in a gym with a manager named Lou, played by Kristen Stewart. She has a crappy job where she plunges toilets and manages the venue to make a living.

She meets Jackie, portrayed by Katy O'Brian, and falls in love. They have a series of adventures together, leading to a killer ending for this passionate couple.

It's a tale about desperate people doing anything to survive in a variety of situations. A major component in the film is addiction shown with the use of cigarettes and body-enhancing stimulants that are shot intravenously. Following one's dreams becomes challenging when relationships and drugs enter the picture.

Addiction to unhealthy relationships and obsession is also explored on several levels. Mikhail Baryshnikov's daughter Anna adds to the crazy Daisy thanks to her conviction and realness.

Bodybuilding takes a back seat to the main storyline which is more about small-town life coupled with a complicated family dynamic for Lou.

Both the leads identify as queer in real life which adds authenticity to the work cinematically onscreen. Love Lies Bleeding is the second LGBTQ+-centered film for English director Rose Glass after the powerful Saint Maud.

This project is a good career move for Stewart as it plays to her strengths and she displays a much-needed rawness in the role. O'Brian is also very good but needed more fleshing out to her character with a proper backstory. Instead of making her into a She-Hulk and using artsy cinematic tricks, the time could have been spent showing what makes Jackie tick with flashback sequences. Ed Harris' character suffers from symbolism in this same way instead of grounding him into reality to aid his talents.

Dave Franco and Jena Malone fare better, making the plot more cohesive with skilled performances. This is not a film for the faint of heart because of several graphic and bloody scenes sprinkled throughout the 104 minutes.

Love Lies Bleeding would pair well as a double feature with another A24 throwback, The Iron Claw, although one is fiction and one is based in reality. Viewers can be the judge of where these lines grow blurry or stay solid when they see Love Lies Bleeding screening in theaters now.