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‘Love Lies Bleeding’: An underwhelming flex of storytelling

The lack of thorough character hinders the experience
Mock+movie+poster+for+the+queer+thriller+romance+film%2C+Love+Lies+Bleeding.+The+poster+contains+a+stock+image+of+the+New+Mexico+desert+with+the+names+of+the+director%2C+main+actors+and+movie+title.+
Mackenzie Jardine
Mock movie poster for the queer thriller romance film, “Love Lies Bleeding”. The poster contains a stock image of the New Mexico desert with the names of the director, main actors and movie title.

“Love Lies Bleeding,” a queer romance thriller film directed by Rose Glass and starring Kristen Stewart (Lou) and Katy O’Brian (Jackie) falls short of my expectations. With an hour and 44 minute run-time, the movie lulls in areas, missing the thriller aspect that is advertised. The movie begins to pick up around the middle point, but the strange ending falls flat.

The film was released on March 8 and has garnered mainly positive reviews with a 7.2 on IMDb, a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 77% on Metacritic.

The R-rated movie, distributed by A24 and produced by Film4, Escape Plan and Lobo Films follows Lou, a gym staff in a small New Mexico town. She does her tasks, dodges an obsessed girl named Daisy (Anna Baryshnikov) and goes home to her cat every night.

Jackie arrives in town with a bang — literally — and ends up finding a job at the gun range in town, owned by Lou’s creepy father Lou Sr. (Ed Harris), and managed by her sleazy brother-in-law, JJ (Dave Franco).

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Jackie is a bodybuilder eager to make it to a bodybuilding competition in Vegas. She soon finds herself at Lou’s gym the second night in town and instantly catches Lou’s eyes.

Jackie ends up getting into a physical altercation with one of the guys at the gym and Lou jumps to her rescue, signaling the fast-paced start to their relationship. Their ride is tumultuous, filled with steroids, sex and blood.

While the romantic aspects are very cute, nothing really holds them together. They both seem like broken people; with Jackie physically drifting from place to place and Lou wishing she could escape, their relationship never seems grounded in anything other than the physical.

They don’t talk much, and the movie is often filled with montages of their time together. They have one fight towards the middle of the movie and it’s the first time Jackie truly learns anything about Lou, but the substance is based on things the audience learned far earlier in the film — there’s nothing to cling on to or root for.

I felt very unmoved by their declarations of love and simply wanted the bad things to happen to the bad people because they sucked, not because I found Lou and Jackie worthy of prevailing in whatever their goals seemed to be.

Their relationship is something original though and has massive amounts of potential to go deep and be explored thoroughly, but as mentioned, the movie lacks the proper pacing to develop them further.

The movie focuses on Lou’s family and how crazy they are, but once again, I found myself not caring. The thriller aspect is nothing new and gives barely any reasons as to why the family is the way they are.

Lou has a sister named Beth (Jena Malone) and she’s a pivotal piece in the entire pace of the movie changing, but she’s so unexplored and doesn’t matter in the long run of things. When you have an amazing actress like Malone on set and she’s used very sparingly, it’s insanely frustrating.

There’s a lot of character designs and decisions that seem like odd quirks, but nothing brings the characters to life.

Lou Sr. has a thing with bugs. The bugs don’t do anything and he’s just described as the “guy with the bugs.” That’s literally it. He just has cases of them in his offices and home.

There’s a very odd ending that is signaled throughout the film, but it completely ruins the entire vibe that was building up. The movie was trying to be dark and gritty, but fell short because it was uncomfortably laughable.

I’m sure there’s a deeper meaning somewhere, but amidst the other undeveloped portions of the script, the finale just plays to meaningless shock value.

I really wish the movie would have allowed for more character development. Everything moves without passion and thinks it can make up for it with sex scenes — there’s not enough chemistry, despite being good physically, between the leads to skip over major points of emotional growth and change.

This movie had so much potential from the trailers, but watching it in theaters, it was entirely underwhelming.

The overall atmosphere of the film is super interesting. The time period, the setting, the cinematography and the color palette all cater to a potential indie classic and are really visually inviting to audiences. That is absolutely the film’s strength thanks to cinematographer Ben Fordesman.

It’s also really nice to see LGBTQ+ representation on screen. Most LGBTQ+ films tend to be about being in the gay community and the struggle of that, but Lou and Jackie’s relationship was a focal point without coming out being a struggle they have to overcome. Though, there are definitely elements of homophobia that come from people hurling slurs at Lou and JJ’s overall dislike of her.

Their relationship was treated fairly normally, despite the strange circumstances of how they came together and stayed together. It’s been nice to see LGBTQ+ content become more normalized and handled as regular relationships, despite the crazy overall plot.

Baryshnikov as Daisy is my favorite acting performance of the film. Her character, entirely miniscule to the plot, feels fully fleshed out by her acting choices, wardrobe and make-up. She’s funny, uncomfortable to watch and annoying in the best ways possible. If you like her here you’ll love her role in Apple TV’s “Dickinson”, which is an utterly phenomenal piece of television.

O’Brian is a standout in her role; having only seen her as side characters in “The Mandalorian” and “Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania,” I was really surprised by her acting abilities, especially around more seasoned actors like Franco, Malone, Harris and Stewart.

I would absolutely wait for streaming, unless you really love Stewart. It’s not her best performance and she looks very dirty and greasy the whole film, but she wears some cool clothes and shoots a gun, if you’re into that.

Rating: 2.5/5 ★★◐☆☆

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About the Contributor
Mackenzie Jardine, Editor-In-Chief
Hi! My name is Mackenzie Jardine, and I am really excited to connect with people through journalism. I'm very excited to be La Voz's Editor-In-Chief this winter quarter! It's an honor to be in charge of this quarter's paper and work with the incredible, hard working and talented staff. Thank you for supporting La Voz!

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