Friday, March 15, 2024

Love Lies Bleeding

Love Lies Bleeding reminded me strongly of body horror with the genre turned on its head by highlighting the glistening muscled bodies of female body builders, often even providing close-ups of bulging muscles, fetishizing them not for the grotesque but instead with more seductive ends in mind. While the purposes are different, the end result remains much the same with the focus on the body at times overpowering that of the character.

In a movie full of awful human beings, what writer/director Rose Glass offers is a tale of the least awful pair of the bunch falling in love. The noir-ish revenge thriller offers us gym manger Lou (Kristen Stewart) dealing with her shitty day-to-day life and her complicated family drama involving her father's (Ed Harris) criminal enterprises and her sister's (Jena Malone) disastrous relationship with her abusive husband (Dave Franco). Into her life walks bodybuilding drifter Jackie (Katy O'Brian) with her own clouded past who provides a chance for love.

I'll give Glass credit for offering something different. And Love Lies Bleeding isn't boring. It's tonally inconsistent, drags for large stretches of times, is filled with an overwhelming number of one-note shitbags masquerading as human beings, and forces characters to be silent about crucial plot points not because it make sense for them to do so but only because the script doesn't wish to share them with the audience. Lou's relationship with her father never really gets fleshed out, no one tied to the movie seems to know how law enforcement works, and then there's the ending which can only be described as wacky.

On the plus side, along with its originality, the film is most notable for the two female leads that keep the energy of the movie up even at times where the script lets them down. Malone also steals a couple of small scenes as the battered woman staunchly standing by the man who shows her only the back of his hand. The film also looks terrific, lived in, and real, which is impressive given the variety of locales and situations the script forces the characters in. I had a very mixed reaction to the film, and I'll admit the amount of muscle shots wore on me, but its strengths outweigh its flaws making it a recommendation for the right audience.

Watch the trailer
  • Title: Love Lies Bleeding
  • IMDb: link

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