LOVE LIES BLEEDING: Steroids and Lust Prove To Be A Volatile Mix

Even when I thought I had seen this type of story before (Bound), writer/director Rose Glass proves that this isn’t a formulaic type of movie. Love Lies Bleeding has no real heroes or villains. In fact, everyone in this story is flawed, and even the love story is far from perfect. Nevertheless, Glass’s great storytelling and filmmaking skills make Love Lies Bleeding an unforgettable movie.

The story takes place in 1989. Lou (Kristen Stewart) runs a gym owned by her father, Lou, Sr (Ed Harris), a criminal who has a couple of front businesses (including the gym) to cover up the actual business he is running. Enter Jackie (Katy O’Brian), a female bodybuilder who is a drifter traveling from town to town but desires to win a bodybuilding competition in Las Vegas. When Jackie decides to settle in town for a job and some time to work out at the gym, she connects with Lou, and the two become lovers.

However, the drama within Lou’s family comes to a head when Lou decides to take matters into her own hands, and her brother-in-law J.J. (Dave Franco) continues to abuse Lou’s sister Beth (Jenna Malone). This act of violence does not please Lou, Sr., and the two lovers find themselves in the crosshairs of Lou and his organization.

Filmmaker Rose Glass, who co-wrote the story and screenplay with Weronika Tofilska, delivers an enthralling film that sometimes feels so real that it is often difficult to watch. At the same time, Glass is a visionary filmmaker who is unafraid to challenge the conventions of reality and surreality to present the story in remarkable ways.

This movie is not for the faint of heart, as much of the violence is tremendously visceral and disturbing. The filmmaker makes it difficult for the audience to completely sympathize with the protagonists. These are characters with some serious issues regarding their history of violence. While some audience members might feel that some justice is served in this movie, the main characters will challenge one’s acceptance of everything they do.

But that’s what makes this film so exciting and subversive. There is no black-and-white, or absolute right or wrong, here. The characters are involved in a complicated mess that worsens as the story continues.

I was very much blown away by Kristen Stewart and Katy O’Brian’s performances. The two not only share a fiery chemistry together but exceptionally realize their characters with all of their flaws and problems on full display. Ed Harris is cold and sinister as the crime boss, Lou, a man struggling to maintain his business and keep his familial troubles at bay. Dave Franco is hateful and despicable as J.J., a fool and abusive husband who always makes matters worse.

Love Lies Bleeding is now open in theaters and is a highly recommended film. It is not feel-good fare but is a mesmerizing and engaging piece of pulp cinema.

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