The Movie Waffler New Release Review - LOVE LIES BLEEDING | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - LOVE LIES BLEEDING

New Release Review - LOVE LIES BLEEDING
gym employee is caught up in a web of violence when she falls for a bodybuilder.

Review by Blair MacBride

Directed by: Rose Glass

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Katy O'Brian, Jena Malone, Anna Baryshnikov, Dave Franco, Ed Harris

Love Lies Bleeding poster

This gritty and entrancing thriller grabs you from its first flirtatious minutes - in fact, it point blank refuses to let you go.

The film - written and directed by Rose Glass - takes place in what some might deem the "gold standard" decade of cinema. Indeed, harking back to the nostalgic and much loved aspects of '80s culture, attire and even hairstyles, Love Lies Bleeding is set in the American West against the backdrop of Ronald Reagan's war on drugs, its cold and raw ambience truly gratifying to behold.

Love Lies Bleeding review

The plot follows Lou (Kristen Stewart), a gym manager in a dusty old town. After new bodybuilder Jackie (Katy O’'Brian) passes through and begins training for an upcoming competition in Las Vegas, Lou's intrigue begins to grow, and she tries to entice Jackie's interest by introducing her to performance enhancing drugs. Soon enough, the pair become entwined in each other's lives. At first, steroid induced action and dark humour ensue, and a really boisterous romance begins to brew between the two, with Stewart and O'Brian fantastic in delivering an excellent on-screen chemistry.

Other forces in the town begin to show their faces, however. Awful ongoing family trouble coupled with the maniacal puppeteering of Lou Sr (Ed Harris) - an insane shooting range owner, local crime lord and Lou's estranged father - start to not only threaten the once budding romance, but also the lives of everyone involved.

As alluded to, Stewart and O'Brian excel in their respective roles, offering some enthralling performances. O'Brian particularly impresses as the towering all powerful Jackie, delivering an excellent portrayal of the good, bad and ugly sides of the troubled athlete. Honourable mentions have to go to Anna Baryshnikov, who plays the freakishly obsessed-with-Lou Daisy, and Harris as the hilariously frightening gun nut Lou Sr.

Love Lies Bleeding review

Alongside some on point casting, the script by Glass and Weronika Tofilska deals with an array of colliding complex themes with great ease: love; hatred; relationships; violence; a perfect concoction put together very well. The '80s inspired soundtrack is sheer class too, perfectly tying in with the rest of the piece, making it an undeniable talking point and one of this feature's key strengths.

That said, just as Love Lies Bleeding begins to leave a trail of destruction in its wake on-screen, it soon becomes a casualty of its own mayhem. The film hits an annoying snag in its middle act, taking an unfortunate abrupt lull with its pacing, leaving us longing for its earlier excitement. Not a unique problem, as soon as momentum feels to be building once again, Glass' feature descends into chaos.

Throughout the film it would be fair to say that there's a constant general foreboding of something sinister, more abnormal beneath Jackie's surface. As she begins her juiced up path to bodybuilding immortality, every hit of her steroids contorts her muscles. We not only see their up close unnatural growth, but also hear their crunching expansion, and witness Jackie's journey to un-human-like strength.

Love Lies Bleeding review

These strange sequences, though, do initially appear to play a fitting role to the unfolding story; that is, until they don't. The once intriguing peculiarity of Love Lies Bleeding quickly becomes the laughable absurd. Modern cinema has this fixation of taking a perfectly gripping story and turning it on its head with outlandish twists or supernatural silliness. Is it a moment of brilliance? Or is it an instance of idiocy? That's up to you. In truth, however, whether it's due to creative preference or merely for laughs, it doesn't quite work for Glass's latest project, feeling out of context, detrimental to the 80 minutes that have gone before, and just downright daft.

Love Lies Bleeding is a good laugh, and will quite rightly divide opinion for its audiences. It's entertaining for the most, yet utterly bonkers to the last, with its enthralling story discredited by its own crass finale.

Love Lies Bleeding is in UK/ROI cinemas from May 3rd.

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