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What to Watch This Weekend – Love Lies Bleeding

Love Lies Bleeding is a story of the boundaries people will cross to defend what matters most to them. Lou (Kristen Stewart) helps run a small gym in 1989 middle-of-nowhere New Mexico. She crosses paths with Jackie (Katy O’Brian), a wandering bodybuilder with aspirations of competing in Las Vegas. As the two begin a relationship, Lou learns that by happenstance Jackie has come under the employ of her father, Lou Sr. (Ed Harris). Lou Sr. has a sadistic, criminal persona that his daughter has tried desperately to escape. As both Lou and Jackie become embroiled in nefarious family matters, they discover exactly how far they will go for love and justice.

What works in Love Lies Bleeding is the escalating intensity through complex relationship-building. With her second feature film Rose Glass (Saint Maud) showcases her skill developing unpredictable characters. Both Stewart and O’Brian shine as lovers who have finally found something to live for after a lifetime of mistreatment. This makes them both passionate and dangerous. The two resemble caged animals finally given a taste of freedom. When that liberation becomes threatened, each unleashes their own form of ferocity. As such, Love Lies Bleeding will undoubtedly keep audiences on edge as the thriller unfolds.

People who get squeamish at graphic violence or explicit sexual encounters may not feel comfortable with Love Lies Bleeding. Glass’ unbridled visuals, while purposeful, are often shocking and meant to convey the gravity of the proceedings. Audiences are cautioned to consider the environment and chosen company to experience this film. In terms of the narrative, Glass’ world is very contained. The amount of interconnectivity between the few primary actors is extensive, which can lead to convolution. By limiting the plot to only a handful of individuals, coincidence begins to run high as new conflicts emerge. Finally, Love Lies Bleeding has a few fantastical elements sprinkled throughout. While they serve to enhance the movie’s themes, it is possible they may distract some audience members.

Love Lies Bleeding packs a heavy punch. It explores cultural dynamics often not covered in cinema, especially considering the time period. And while Love Lies Bleeding has moments of escalating awfulness, there’s an inherent ripple of beauty running through it. While it may not be for everyone, Glass’ creative work cements them as an emerging filmmaker to keep an eye on.

Recommended if you enjoyed: Natural Born Killers, Spring Breakers, Thelma & Louise

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