2 min read

Love Lies Bleeding

Kristen Stewart and Katy O' Brian are a perfect one-two punch, in a fun film that falters when it nears the finish line.
Love Lies Bleeding

"Love Lies Bleeding" is part crime caper, part love story. It's a neon-tinged tense, often shocking, often funny film that lays out its pieces clearly. Yet as the crime escalates, the story's heart starts to recede into the background, making for an uneven, though still entertaining, film.

At the core of the film is the sultry romance between gym staff Lou, played by Kristen Stewart, and bodybuilder Jackie, played by Katy O'Brian. Stewart and O'Brian's intense chemistry pulls us into their relationship easily. Even though the bulk of their happy days are presented through a montage of burnt cigarettes and tossed yolks, we still fall for them together because the two performers are at such ease. Their burgeoning relationship is enough to help us forget about Lou's sister, trapped in an abusive marriage, Jackie's bursts of rage, or the specter of Lou's father and alleged kingpin, played by Ed Harris. So, though we are pulled into this whirlwind, we're also keenly aware of the domino pieces being laid out by director and co-writer Rose Glass.

When the pieces come tumbling down though, the film's otherwise excellent pacing falters. The inciting incident is shocking and ruptures the bliss of these characters. We still stand with them, and understand what they must do. But once the two leads separate, the film becomes unmoored and the thinness of Jackie's character sans Lou becomes more apparent. Glass introduces more and more spectacular and otherworldly imagery into the mix, both horrified and enamored by the body and its muscular potential. To get to some of these moments and to move the plot along, the dominoes start to collapse almost too conveniently. The events move so swiftly, that they had me longing for the slow burn of the film's first hour. Naturally, as a story escalates, so should its pace. But this acceleration pulls Lou along while leaving Jackie behind. Ultimately, the movie brings the two back together but by then the distance between them feels too vast to reconcile. And so despite having spent more time with the two characters, I felt more disconnected from them than I did at the film's hour mark.

Regardless of its final third, "Love Lies Bleeding" is a blast. It's raucous, weird, and heartfelt, though I wish the latter two were more connected. And it's yet another great entry in Kristen Stewart's filmography and marks the entrance of an exciting potential action heroine with Katy O'Brian.

// Make all external links open in new tab