Love Lies Bleeding - neo noir from the director of Saint Maud

I saw Love Lies Bleeding last night. It’s been hailed as Coen-esque. It’s not really; more like the slew of neo-noir films that came out in the mid-90’s in the wake of Pulp Fiction. I’m thinking like Two Days in the Valley and Go and Truth and Consequence, NM and–most especially–Bound. This kind of plot is almost a cliche at this point: girl meets girl, one of them has a past, murder happens, things spiral out of control. It’s well shot and well put together, with a real sense of time (1989) and place (rural New Mexico). Kristin Stewart and Katy O’Brien act their asses off. Stewart especially, is really good at letting her character’s inner conflict play out on her face. The female body-building stuff (O’Brien’s character is a body-builder) was interesting, and I wish they’d fleshed that out a bit more. There are a few backstory elements that are left unexplored, and I think that’s a good choice–it’s real; tying backstories to the plot is a movie device and real-life is not so neat and tidy.

I think the ending of the film sucks though, but I don’t have a lot of patience suddenly-unreliable-narration, where you leave the theater trying to figure out what was real and what wasn’t. I’m not sure if that’s intended as a meta-commentary on narrative and how none of it is real, but why tell the story at all if you’re not gonna let it play out? Glass did this with Saint Maud too, though there she at least has a flash cut that leaves no ambiguity. Love Lies Bleeding is an odd noir film that seems to shy away from its inevitable tragic ending.

Still, it’s a good film and worth seeing I think, particularly for the performances of the leads. Best film ever with a title from a Fuel lyric.

It felt a lot more classic Coen than Drive Away Dolls did to me (despite liking that movie) but Bound is definitely another touchstone for me. I say it feels Coen because of the little sly bits of humor around what is generally a pretty dark story. Like Stewart’s copy of “Macho Sluts”, later found by one of the FBI agents who’s flipping through it and looking askance in the background.

I also don’t think the ending is particularly ambiguous. Obviously the magical thing didn’t really happen the way it’s shown but it seems to me everything else in the scene happens just fine if Katy O’Brien just does 'em normally. And there’s no real question about the ending being ultimately tragic but personally I am okay leaving while it’s not final.

Except for the epilogue scene where Stewart is walking around noticeably without a gunshot leg.

Are you sure it wasn’t an Elton John album title?

Aha! As a GenXer I went right to the cock rock. Didn’t even know about the Elton John song. :P

(inserts snarky comment about how “real” Gen-Xers of the Billy Idol/Douglas Coupland vintage would absolutely think of 1973 Elton John instead of 1990s Fuel)

Lol, true. I’m a younger GenXer, but I also lived in an evangelical bubble during the 80’s so only have a spotty knowledge on pre-90’s pop culture references. :)

This movie rocked. Amazing performances, surprising plot, and wonderfully odd series of seeing transitions and establishing shots in the first half.

My wife took me to this as a Surprise Movie Night and I honestly didn’t know what kind of movie I was watching for 45 minutes or so because the filmmaking is so interesting and off-kilter.

And perhaps cinema’s greatest skullet.

SO THIS POST AND LATER POSTS FROM ME MIGHT HAVE SPOILERS! I will not be blurring spoilers in my posts, as they’re written for people who have seen the movie!

I was really puzzled by this comment, since I thought Love Lies Bleeding was pretty explicit what was real and what was stylized or hyper-exaggerated, even if it could be subtle sometimes. So when you elaborated…

…I went back to check what you were talking about. And I hate to do this to you, but I think you’ve been bamboozled by a “Hollywood gunshot wound”. You know, the kind that you can walk off because the movie’s almost over? You could certainly ding the movie’s continuity, or more likely Kristen Stewart’s performance as someone who was shot in the leg a few hours ago, but Rose Glass is NOT trying to do anything ambiguous with the ending! It’s just that the wound effect was on her “downstage” leg, so you have to wait until she turns to see it.

Here’s a screengrab:

bury my daisy at wounded jeans

With an assist, because it is hard to see:

splat marks the spot

I’ll have more to say later, but you had me worried I’d missed something, so I had to go back and check this first. But hopefully it clears up the intended ending a bit.

Lol, ok well I watched it in the movie theater, so didn’t have that rewind capability. So you got me there :) I thought the whole ending was a dreamed-up deus-ex-machina. If Glass’s intent was a happy ending, it feels kind of cheap. I thought by imbuing it with unreality, she was implying that she was rewriting the inevitable tragic noir-ish ending, to wit: “Well it’s kind of obvious how this would actually turn out, so let’s instead see how we’d like things to turn out.”

I don’t see that as a happy ending. They’re together, sure, and alive, and free for now. But there’s an expiration date on all of that ticking down, we just don’t know how far off it might be. (Well, at least the “together” and “free” parts. They committed a bunch of serious crimes and didn’t really hide much of it.)

I guess that depends on whether

she did actually make a deal with the feds off-screen, and they’d rack it all up as his shenanigans / The cop he had in his pocket

I really enjoyed this movie, although I’m not entirely sure that’s how roid rage works ;)