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Review: Love Lies Bleeding



In the seedy underbelly of Rose Glass' 1989-set thriller "Love Lies Bleeding," passion collides with brutality, and love intertwines with violence in a mesmerizing dance of desire and despair. Anchored by the magnetic performances of Kristen Stewart and Katy O'Brian, this film plunges audiences into a world where lust and danger reign supreme.


From the outset, "Love Lies Bleeding" announces its intentions with a scene dripping in sordid allure. Kristen Stewart's Lou, a weary gym manager, finds herself knee-deep in filth while navigating the advances of the enigmatic Jackie, portrayed with captivating intensity by Katy O'Brian. Their encounter sets the stage for a journey fraught with peril and obsession, where the lines between love and manipulation blur with each passing moment.


Glass and co-writer Weronika Tofilska eschew easy categorization, avoiding simplistic portrayals of victimhood in favor of a more nuanced exploration of desire and power dynamics. Lou and Jackie's relationship is as complex as it is volatile, fueled by a shared sense of longing and an undercurrent of danger. As the narrative unfolds, it becomes clear that theirs is not a story of redemption, but rather a descent into darkness and the perils of love—a descent made all the more intoxicating by its unpredictability.


Stewart and O'Brian deliver electrifying performances that crackle with tension and raw emotion. Lou's stoic facade belies a simmering intensity, while Jackie exudes a magnetic charm that belies her troubled past. Together, they ignite the screen with a chemistry that is as exhilarating as it is unsettling, drawing viewers deeper into their twisted world with each passing scene.


At its core, "Love Lies Bleeding" is a meditation on the nature of desire and the lengths to which we will go to fulfill our deepest cravings. Glass deftly weaves themes of power, control, and obsession into the fabric of the film, crafting a narrative that is as thought-provoking as it is thrilling. Whether exploring the complexities of female desire or delving into the dark recesses of the human psyche, the film never shies away from confronting the darker aspects of human nature.


Visually, "Love Lies Bleeding" is a feast for the senses, with cinematographer Ben Fordesman capturing the moody atmosphere of the film's desert setting with breathtaking precision. From the neon-lit streets to the shadowy interiors of the gym, each frame is imbued with a sense of foreboding that keeps audiences on edge throughout. The film's sound design is another highlight as it often creates moments of big impact with its use of music and moments of silence.


While the film's narrative occasionally veers into the realm of the absurd, its commitment to exploring the darker corners of human experience remains unwavering. Glass's penchant for blending elements of romance, thriller, and horror results in a film that defies easy categorization, challenging audiences to confront their own preconceptions about love, lust, and power.


In the end, "Love Lies Bleeding" is a captivating and audacious work of cinema that lingers in the mind long after the credits roll. With its searing performances, stylish direction, and provocative themes, it stands as a testament to the enduring power of cinema to provoke, thrill, and unsettle in equal measure. For those willing to brave its murky depths, it offers a journey into the heart of darkness unlike any other.


4/5

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