Review: Love Lies Bleeding


Sex, drugs, lesbians, muscles: Love Lies Bleeding is a film that knows what it is and who it’s for. Rose Glass’s latest feature is an explosion of lesbian desire and violence as fresh as it is entrenched within queer iconography and influence. This was my most anticipated film release of 2024, and I’m so happy that it did not disappoint.

Love Lies Bleeding | Official Trailer HD | A24

Love Lies Bleeding
Director: Rose Glass

Release Date: March 8, 2024 (US Limited)
Rating: R

Kristen Stewart and Katy O’Brian co-star in A24’s Love Lies Bleeding, a crime-thriller with as much sex as there is blood and violence. The film follows Lou (Stewart), who manages a gym, and Jackie (O’Brian), a drifter looking to win a bodybuilding competition in Las Vegas. The two cross paths when Jackie begins to train at Lou’s gym. An immediate attraction brings the women together, as do the steroids Lou convinces Jackie to try.

Lou’s criminal father, Lou Sr. (Ed Harris), is the driving source of tension between the couple. Jackie works at his gun range and Lou is upset at how this brings him closer to being in her life. The other snag in Love Lies Bleeding’s plot is JJ (Dave Franco), the abusive husband of Lou’s sister Beth (Jena Malone). Lou expresses that her reluctance to leave her sister in the hands of her violent, alcoholic husband is the only reason she hasn’t left her hometown and father behind completely.

Jackie and Lou sit on the floor of the gym together.

From A24.

Lou and Jackie spend their time together getting ready for Jackie’s competition – training, shooting up steroids, and having sex. Their bliss is abruptly shattered when JJ puts Beth in the emergency room. Lou’s anger bubbles over and Jackie, who has become increasingly violent because of the drugs, murders JJ in a fit of rage. The couple then has to cover up his death, deciding to use this opportunity to lead the FBI to Lou Sr. and his ring of crime and corruption. 

Things start to fall apart for Lou and Jackie as the bodybuilding competition creeps up. Insisting that they need to lay low until the cops are done with their investigation, Lou tries to keep Jackie from leaving for Las Vegas. She doesn’t listen and leaves, but the drugs mess with her head a little too much and she gets arrested for hitting another competitor.

Lou Sr. bails Jackie out of jail and brings her deeper into his web of crime by forcing her to kill Daisy (Anna Baryshnikov) – the only witness that could connect Lou and Jackie to JJ’s death. He then plans to pin both of these murders on Jackie, but Lou threatens her father and goes to rescue her girlfriend. They succeed and run off together into the desert.

Lou and Jackie hold each other before Lou confronts her dad.

From A24.

Love Lies Bleeding’s ending is the thematic crux of the entire film, bringing together the different elements of queerness that the film engages with, while also cementing its place in the tradition of lesbian cinema. Throughout Love Lies Bleeding there are discussions of power and monstrosity within women’s bodies and lesbian relationships. 

This is most obvious when dissecting the body horror and addiction aspects of Jackie’s character. As pointed out in the 1985 film Pumping Iron II: The Women, there are conflicting ideas about where the line for feminine bodies ends. Does having too much muscle (or other “masculine” traits) take away from their womanhood? Even now, this same conversation continues within women’s sports with more “masculine” looking women subject to investigation and with transgender athletes being barred from even competing. Love Lies Bleeding plays with the malleability of gender, muscles, and drugs throughout the film – showing Jackie’s growing strength as not only a part of her inherent queerness but also as the deciding factor for Lou and Jackie being able to escape Lou’s father.

The body horror elements of the film are subtle until Glass uses them to reiterate Love Lies Bleeding’s ideas about femininity. In the final moments with Lou’s father, right before he attempts to kill Lou, Jackie’s body grows, turning her into a giant reminiscent of the feminine monstrosity from the 1958 film Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. She pins him down (much like the way he does with his own bugs) and the lovers have to decide whether to kill him or let the feds get him. Lou and Jackie run off into the night together, both seemingly giant with the clouds slipping past their faces.

Jackie poses at the bodybuilding competition.

From A24.

Glass isn’t concerned with making these fantastical body horror elements too grounded in the world of Love Lies Bleeding. And, by leaving them up to a certain degree of interpretation, she succeeds in rectifying the self-fulfilling prophecy of the lethal lesbian, a term coined by queer film theorist B. Ruby Rich. Throughout cinematic history (and especially when looking into lesbian cinema) there is a thread of lesbian revenge killers who kill men but (usually) also end up dead. Most famous is Thelma & Louise, which ends with the two women driving themselves into a canyon rather than being arrested by the cops. Glass changes this tragic ending, giving Lou and Jackie the chance to stay together, by subverting the story and instead driving JJ down to the bottom of the canyon. Lou and Jackie get to drive off together and start their lives without the circle of violence that they’ve been pulled into.

The horror/fantasy elements might not work for everyone, but I firmly believe that Love Lies Bleeding is a film produced from a specific legacy of queer, lesbian cinema. With the cinematic history laid out behind Lou and Jackie, Love Lies Bleeding gives them a chance to embrace their violence rather than feel burdened by it. Without it, there’s no chance of survival. And a long road stretches out before them, waiting to see the future.




Love Lies Bleeding is an astounding expression of desire and violence, drawing from a wealth of influences to tell a tight, sexy story of criminal lovers.

Sophia Schrock
Sophia (they/them) currently lives in Jersey City, NJ. They are passionate about queer cinema, horror, anything gothic, and their beloved cat Salem.