Progressive Labor Party Organizes Solidarity March With Harvard Yard Encampment


Encampment Protesters Briefly Raise 3 Palestinian Flags Over Harvard Yard


Mayor Wu Cancels Harvard Event After Affinity Groups Withdraw Over Emerson Encampment Police Response


Harvard Yard To Remain Indefinitely Closed Amid Encampment


HUPD Chief Says Harvard Yard Encampment is Peaceful, Defends Students’ Right to Protest

‘Love Lies Bleeding’ Review: Subverting Tropes Around Crime, Thriller, and Love

Dir. Rose Glass — 4 Stars

Katy O'Brien and Kristen Stewart in Rose Glass' new film with A24, "Love Lies Bleeding."
Katy O'Brien and Kristen Stewart in Rose Glass' new film with A24, "Love Lies Bleeding." By Courtesy of Zoey Kang/A24
By Neeraja S. Kumar, Crimson Staff Writer

The movie “Love Lies Bleeding” begins as one would expect. However, the film quickly divulges into a wild, thrilling narrative that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats.

Initially, the movie appears to be a love story between two women: the free-spirited Jackie (Katy O’Brien) and the stuck-in-her-ways Lou (Kristen Stewart). Jackie harbors dreams of competing in a bodybuilding competition in Las Vegas, and takes up a job at a shooting range owned by Lou’s father while working towards her goal. On the other hand, Lou, who has never ventured beyond her hometown, works at a gym and remains tethered to her family.

The relationship between Lou and Jackie is portrayed with sweetness and sensuality, underscored by their mutual attraction and shared hardships. What begins as a spontaneous one-night fling becomes a supportive partnership as they navigate life’s challenges together. However, their bond is tested when a violent incident threatens to tear apart their bond.

The film’s fast pace risks overshadowing crucial details, particularly the whirlwind of Jackie’s employment arrangement involving Lou’s brother-in-law. Lou longs to leave but constantly chooses to stay to protect her sister, the one person in her family she still loves deeply. These details — from small and nitpicky dynamics to the broader structure of the film — unfortunately detract from the main story and themes of the dangers of drugs and the dark influences growing up in a crime family.

Set in 1989, the film is quick to center itself in the era through its music, the character aesthetics, and background scenery details. Jackie’s distinct style — notably her band jacket — and the synthesized beats evoke a nostalgic ’80s ambiance, providing a rich backdrop for the story to flourish. The setting especially helps to evoke two key aspects of the film: A rich connection to a time that many viewers can recognize and the recreation of a past culture that younger generations can learn from.

The acting within the film, however, does help to carry the work away from its jaunty storyline. Kristen Stewart really excelled in portraying Lou. Her constantly nervous, shy, and hard-working energy perfectly reflected a character getting over family-related trauma. O’Brien had an energy that helped to make the movie more playful and concentrated well with Stewart’s coldness. This created a sort of energetic and shy tension that really helped to build their relationship. As the movie continued, viewers can see the instant chemistry from the characters’ different personalities; both genuinely seemed to want to be there for each other in any way possible and added a romance that made the movie shine.

The most surprising part of the movie that adds a certain twist to each scene is the looming theme of crime. Violence is added to the film so suddenly that it jolts the watcher from a romance to a crime drama. The gore is also very sudden and almost unexpected. This choice made the film transition well from romance to thriller and highlighted the change without making the scenes too unrealistic.

One of the most unsettling aspects of the film was the inclusion of steroid usage, addiction, and dependence. The film included strange images of muscles growing grotesquely as a result of excess steroid usage. In certain scenes, like Jackie’s bodybuilding competition, steroid use highlights how far the characters have lost themselves.

The small details are also really important in the film, though not always explained. For example, Lou’s criminal past is never fully expanded on. The watcher just sees glimpses of her trauma. We never know much about what Jackie escaped from other than the fact that she has a family member who she tells never to fall in love with after being hurt by Jackie.

The movie is a great experience but lost itself with sudden thematic shifts that take away from the main storyline. The stories shift from sweet romance to crime thriller and the ending strayed away from the action. Overall, the movie is especially great for anyone new to this genre and the acting helped to highlight the characters well. “Love Lies Bleeding” shows us that love can be crazy, fast, and scary all at the same time.

—Staff writer Neeraja S. Kumar can be reached at

Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.