Love Lies Bleeding | Fresh Takes

Fresh takes and film reviews from new voices in film.

Alexandra, Tara, Heather, Lucy & Katie

03 May 24

Fresh Takes is a space for the latest generation of film lovers to share their views and opinions on some of the great films we are showing at Picturehouse cinemas. 

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Here are some Fresh Takes on Love Lies Bleeding, which marks the return of Saint Maud director Rose Glass: a high-tension, '80s-set thriller, starring Kristen Stewart and Katy O'Brian as a gym manager and a bodybuilder who fall for each other and wind up caught in a dangerous criminal web.

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Lucy, 23

A part-time student and investigator who is used to writing informational pieces, now writing about my love of film for Picturehouse.

Lucy says...

A refreshing second outing from Saint Maud director Rose Glass, Love Lies Bleeding is a traditional crime thriller infused with a romantic narrative that's as alluring as it is toxic. The film navigates its complex central relationships against a backdrop of criminal intrigue, delivering a story that is both gritty and engaging.

Love Lies Bleeding sidesteps the clichéd coming-out narrative that usually anchors queer stories, choosing instead to explore the cyclical nature of escaping our worst – sometimes inherited – characteristics. The chemistry between the leads is palpable, underlined by Kirsten Stewart's exceptional performance, and reaffirms that Katy O'Brian should be cast in many more complex roles. Their ability to convey deep vulnerability and intimidating strength within a single scene is nothing short of captivating.

What's particularly striking about Love Lies Bleeding is its unexpected humour. Amidst the high stakes and suspense, the film finds moments of genuine comedy facilitated by visual panache (and Stewart's reactions). The humour might not consistently provide relief, but it enhances the characters' relatability. However, Glass' adherence to genre convention leaves more to be desired in creating the space to explore characters past a surface level.

This film isn't just a visual experience; stylish direction, sharp writing and stellar performances make Love Lies Bleeding a standout in the genre. This movie is a must-watch for those seeking a crime thriller daring to be different, play with extremes and indulge in unique visual metaphors.

Alexandra Severtseva, 18

First-year undergraduate student at QMUL, Audience Development Intern at Picturehouse Cinemas.

Alexandra says…

A film that treads the thin line between ardent passion and the macabre, one can't help but be both intrigued and unsettled by Love Lies Bleeding. This endeavour boldly explores the dark corners of love and obsession, yet it's the film's liberal use of gore that occasionally overshadows its more subtle thematic undertones. While the visual effects are undoubtedly impressive, showcasing the filmmakers' commitment to a visceral experience, one wonders if the story's emotional depth suffers amidst the splatter.

The performances, particularly from the lead actors, provide a compelling anchor amidst the chaos. Their ability to convey complex emotions with a glance or a gesture adds layers to a narrative that could easily have been lost in its spectacle. The film's reliance on graphic violence to shock and awe might not be to everyone's taste, but in an era where cinema is constantly pushing boundaries, Love Lies Bleeding certainly makes its mark. As a viewer, I was left pondering the balance between form and content, spectacle and subtlety.

Prepare for a film that will challenge your thresholds, both emotionally and visually. While it doesn't shy away from the gruesome, Love Lies Bleeding still manages to weave a tale that will resonate with those who have witnessed the double-edged sword of love.

Tara, 24

Avid cinema-goer and serial A24 watcher. Favourite off-screen movie snack is a trail mix, favourite on-screen movie snack is Zendaya.

Tara says...

It's difficult to describe the effect Katy O'Brian's Jackie had over us at the screening of Love Lies Bleeding. She may have left some violence in her wake, but I understand completely why Kristen Stewart's Lou ignores it – I would do the same. My blatant objectification aside, this movie is seriously good at being unserious: truly, what an adrenaline-filled rampage.

Given that this is a killer thriller set in the 80's, it's a miracle that it felt so fresh. It was very 'us versus the world'; strong Thelma and Louise energy. Of course, the setting brought waves of nostalgia, with its fresh mullets and teeny, tiny sporty shorts, but the palpable, delectable chemistry between Jack and Lou made it feel like we were watching something brand new. The little details, too – in how Lou is too hopeless to make a first move, but pounces onto her when the feeling's mutual. That's real, that's gay, that's really gay. The fact that I left the cinema more consumed by the romance than the several dead bodies tells you a lot.

Heather, 25

Heather is a queer comedian and film enthusiast based in Brighton.

Heather says...

Love Lies Bleeding is a dark, twisted body horror about the limits of love and the human form. It's about blurring the line between women and monster, both in the physical and psychological sense. We see this throughout the film as the relationship between Lou (Kristen Stewart) and Jackie (Katy O'Brian) develops, fueled by lust, steroids, and secrets.

Director Rose Glass does a fantastic job of showing how suffocating it was for queer women in the '80s. This is shown through the stunning desert backdrop of New Mexico, bringing a stifling heat that makes the film feel apocalyptic – with both characters racing towards the same dark end. This film plays with the extremes of lesbian 'U-Haul' relationships, testing the limits of love and desire with deadly consequences.

Katie, 24

Katie is a queer historian based in Brighton, and a keen cinema-goer. She works on exploring LGBT+ representation and connection through media, and can typically be found scouring the Picturehouse listings to plan her week around.

Katie says...

Love Lies Bleeding surprised me in a lot of ways: it's bold, it's genre-defying, and it's unafraid to portray queerness outside of the usual parameters many of us as queer viewers have come to expect. Its dark eroticism feels like an eighties pulp novel, fuelled by the overall atmosphere throughout the movie. Lighting, in particular, is used evocatively throughout – even though it's a common complaint among cinema-goers these days, Love Lies Bleeding is the rare exception where the dark, gritty atmosphere adds to the overall vision, rather than detracts from it. 

I don't know that it's a movie I'll be rushing to rewatch; I do think that the atmosphere of seeing it in a packed-out cinema contributed a lot to my experience, and that's not something I expect I'd be able to replicate easily through streaming. But, having said that, even in moments where things started to go particularly off the rails (anyone who's seen it already will know what I'm alluding to!) I was completely along for the ride, and highly recommend it to queer viewers in particular – we aren't exactly drowning in representation at the best of times, and Love Lies Bleeding is a captivating movie that pushes the boundaries of mainstream lesbian cinema in a way I haven't seen before. 

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