Review: Love Lies Bleeding

Still of the upcoming thriller string Kristen Stewart and Katy M. O'Brian. (Courtesy of A24)

Roided up, paranoid, strung out, stained in blood, vomit, sweat and semen. Logically ramps up its surreal, neon tinged violence to complete ludicrousy. The gun was destructive, traumatizing, empowering, addictive, a high calibre hand cannon made for the express purpose of mutilating human flesh and annihilating life. Love Lies Bleeding is a grand fucking time, endlessly erotic, and intense, accelerating its increasingly escalating action and strangeness until everything is spinning out of control. Love Lies Bleeding isn’t a movie you think about, it’s something you experience, something you feel down to your very core. A violent, acid western noir full of hyperviolence and lesbian sex. 

Love Lies Bleeding isn’t only hot though, it’s out there, it’s gross, and it’s odd. Its eroticism is deeply wrapped up in the inherent strangeness of queer sex, its rough and weird and dirty and drugged up. Muscle mommies commit horrific acts of brutality before injecting steroids and getting laid while men with strange haircuts eat bugs and shoot things. Love Lies Bleeding pulls from some many inspirations, from the Coen brothers to Shinya Tskuomoto’s works, from pure 70s grindhouse and exploitation films, superhero cinema, roadtrip movies and even a little sprinkling of both Lynch and Cronenberg. Yet it never feels like it’s relying on these reference points too much, instead, it comes across much more than the sum of its parts, Glass carefully weaves these influences with her own unique style to make for a captivating ride. And while it certainly leans into that 1980s dusty, dingy, neon tinted, barren desert aesthetic, it never feels like Stranger Things adjacent “grew up in the wrong generation, man” tropage. Love Lies Bleeding is about that paper thin line between glitz and gutter trash.

It’s obsessed with the body and metal, with the imagery, implications and devastating effects of the gun, a tool as empowerment through violence. Love becomes an all consuming, destructive, ultimately mythic and quite literally transcendental force. Love Lies Bleeding is aggressive and transgressive and it’s so fucking nice to watch a queer film that isn’t just a doomed romance or a kitsch romcom, closer to something like the Handmaiden than Portrait of a Lady on Fire. It understands the integral revolutionary aspects of queer love and lust in a heteronormative society, and envisions that love as inherently transgressive to the mores of the society and hence transcendent of them. But the pair is never beaten down by the crime-filled world they live in, instead they fight tooth and nail to stay alive and stay together. Its specific focus on lesbian love allows it to parse an incredibly complex web of queerness, identity, attraction and of course some women getting revenge. 

It’s exploitative but not mean, creative and violent, goopy, loud, fast, frenetic, fucked up and just an absolute blast of an adrenaline rush from start to finish. By the end, I was left in my seat craving more of whatever high quality crack had just been placed in front of me. It should be noted that this film also has one. Its uncut gems for cunty bitches who love shooting GUNS at MEN. So glad my last review got to be GAY.