Jacob Mendez
Jacob Mendez

Berlinale 2024. “Love Lies Bleeding”: Kristen Stewart in the world of bodybuilding

  • “Love Lies Bleeding” by Rose Glas debuted during the Sundance Festival in 2024. In Berlin it was shown in the special screenings section
  • The film’s co-writer is Weronika Tofińska, a Pole, whose credits include the series “Hanna”
  • Although the film begins as a typical romance, it smoothly transitions into other genres, including thriller and revenge cinema

The whole thing, taking place in a small town in New Mexico, promises to be a mixture of a lesbian romance and a classic story of… american dream. Or at least that’s what it looks like when we meet the two main characters of “Love Lies Bleeding.” Played by Kristen Stewart Lou looks after one (the more legal) of the family businesses, spending his days trying to kill boredom behind the reception desk of the local gym. In turn, the heroine played by Katy O’Brian – for me the discovery of this film – dreams of becoming a professional bodybuilder. The circumstances of their meeting may not be very romantic, but a short exchange of glances amidst the tons of iron surrounding them at the gym is enough to realize that the heroines will not remain indifferent to each other.

Both of them, apart from their obvious physical fascination, have something to offer each other. Affection, support, emotional closeness? Sure, that too. However, let’s remember that this is not an ordinary romance, but rather a cinema of attractions in which things are just starting to happen, and the weapon is not meant to be kept in the holster for too long. So, instead of the “boring” planning of a bodybuilder’s career and posing at subsequent competitions, it is better to stick out your buttock at some point, take a steroid injection and, with the help of your loved one, tidy up the area. Mainly with men, because how else could it be? Toxic, violent, but also presented in a highly caricatured way. At the forefront is the character of Lou’s father, played by Ed Harris, whose on-screen hairstyle will bring joy to even the most sad people in the cinema.

After an intriguing horror debut “Saint Maud” (2019), British Rose Glass proved that she feels really good in the formula of genre cinema, as well as in gradually building a mood using the film form. The stereotypical depiction of provincial America or the repetition of certain tropes in the budding relationship between women may be a bit irritating, but if that was the price for the surprise that has been served to us from a certain point, because probably few people expected the direction in which “Love Lies Bleeding” would ultimately go. , it seems that it was worth it. And Glass has a vivid imagination, there is no doubt about it. As evidenced by the original use of a motif from the classic “Gulliver’s Travels”. Maybe a bit flashy, but certainly memorable.

This is my reflection immediately after the screening. For me, “Love Lies Bleeding” is, first of all, intense, expressive cinema that affects the senses more than the typical cause-and-effect perception. From the first spectacular prices, fetishizing the muscular, perfectly sculpted body, to the final, bloody results. There will be room here for poetics straight from film noir, for a thorough thriller, and for a romance. And if that wasn’t enough, it’s topped with a campy sauce. You can get lost, but despite a few script shortcomings, it has everything to do with it. Love is, after all, a complicated state. Especially on steroids.


“Love Lies Bleeding”, dir. Rose Glass, Great Britain/USA 2024, distribution: Gutek Film.