Credit: A24/Lionsgate UK

Glasgow Film Festival 2024: Love Lies Bleeding

By Caitlin MacDonald

Rose Glass’ Sundance stunner graces Glasgow screens for it’s UK premiere.

Humans are scared of the dark because we’re scared of what could be hiding there, of the horror our imagination cooks up for us; conversely, we’re scared of ourselves, of what we can become.

Enter Albuquerque, New Mexico; flat plains under a dusty sky during the day and an all-encompassing darkness at night, where a punch can be cocked and reloaded like a gun. Rose Glass’ Sundance and Glasgow Film Festival headliner, Love Lies Bleeding, chews us up and spits us out here, in sun-bleached 1989, the setting for her glossy, sapphic thriller. Her first feature, Saint Maud, was an introspective, suffocating piece about religious devotion and hysteria, about a woman on the brink of divine madness. Here, Love Lies Bleeding changes gear; it’s fast, it’s sexy and it’s tense, tight even. It’s a blood-splattered and bumpy trip through the cavern of criminal activity in beautiful and bleak Americana.

Kristen Stewart stars as our lead, Lou, a butch-y gym manager type trying to wean herself off cigarettes and keep her gym from falling apart. Opposite her is Katy O’Brian, who plays Jackie, an up-and-coming bodybuilder – a ‘muscle mommy’- with her sights squarely set on a Vegas bodybuilding competition that will officially kick start her career. Lou and Jackie enter a turbulent relationship together, sparked in the dark of Lou’s gym served sunny side up, all egg-white omelettes and several vials of illegal West German steroids Jackie uses to swell up in time for the competition. While their relationship progresses and Jackie trains, she gets a job at a shooting range, managed by Lou’s father, Lou (the wickedly frightful Ed Harris) whose quiet, calm, insectoid demeanour hides something far more chilling.

In Love Lies Bleeding, love and hate exist as two sides of the same coin and Rose Glass is keen to remind us of this. Lou’s sister, Beth (Jena Malone), faces torrents of violence from her husband JJ (Dave Franco), Lou and her father maintain an icy relationship, a fellow gym rat turns sour on Jackie when his feelings aren’t reciprocated. Interposed throughout the film are tiny snippets – nuggets of information – of the evil that lies below,  the underbelly of Lou’s family history, what lies deep in a ditch on the outskirts of town. We see snippets of the truth, only allowing sneaky glimpses into how Lou’s criminal family operates. Glass draws us in from the start, what with its magnetic sound design and uneasy soundtrack, and from there, its performance-enhancing drugs, sweet revenge, and lesbian sensuality all the way down until the credits roll and the lights come up.

Love Lies Bleeding acts as one bookend of this year’s Glasgow Film Festival, with its sold-out UK premiere opening the festival officially on Wednesday 28. The other bookend, the world premiere of Janey, will close the festival on Sunday March 10.

Love Lies Bleeding opens in UK cinemas on April 19 2024.


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