Love Lies Bleeding Will Leave You Gayer And Hornier Than Ever

Enjoy! This interview with the director of Love Lies Bleeding, Rose Glass, is spoiler-free.
When I first heard of Love Lies Bleeding, I — like many other queer women — were ecstatic. Kristen Stewart and Katy O'Brian in a bodybuilding muscle mommy love story? Sign me up. But while I may have walked into the cinema as a bisexual woman, after watching Love Lies Bleeding, I've been left wondering if I've just been gay as hell this entire time.
If you're out of the loop, the A24 distributed film features Kristen Stewart as Lou, a small-town, reclusive gym manager who falls hard for Jackie (the phenomenal Katy M. O'Brian), a bodybuilder with big, pulsating muscles who is preparing for a competition. They meet in a gym, immediately hit it off (and then some), before they get pulled deep into the web of Lou's criminal family.
Set in the 1980s, the film is buzzy, fluorescent, and grimy, with equal parts blood and horror as much as there is fucking and toe-sucking. So much so that this critic, who prides herself in usually being quite eloquent in her assessment of films, could only walk away with two words to describe the film: "SO. HOT." It's not very eloquent, but damn, is it accurate.

"I was very keen on having queer women at the centre of this, but in the context of the film not really being about the fact that they're queer."

Rose Glass on queer representation in Love Lies Bleeding
In speaking with the film's director Rose Glass (Saint Maud), the romance was just as important as any horror element. "It's a romance, so obviously sex was going to be an important part of it," Glass tells Refinery29. "You want it to be hot, I guess, but also in service of the story."
"You get so used to quite odd things that you're like, I guess we are filming these people having sex and that's strange, but making films is strange," she says.
During the film, the audience is gifted with sex scenes aplenty, all of which seem to dodge the queer sex clichés and feel sexy — and above all, real. There's no panning away, leaving the audience to revel in their imagination. The sex is visceral and in your face, fuelled by desire, longing and power dynamics. Simply put, it'll have everyone salivating, (dare I say, even if you're not particularly into girls).
But while Glass does say that the sex scenes are integral to the film in order to constitute it as a romance, she's quick to say that it shouldn't be a novelty to watch two women fuck on the screen. "I was very keen on having queer women at the centre of this, but in the context of the film not really being about the fact that they're queer," Glass tells us. "[Their sexuality] is just one element of who they are."
"There's a lot of great films that explore coming out stories or people struggling and grappling with homophobia, but I guess I was just kind of keen to see something where it's not about the fact that they're gay or whatever," she continues. "They've got other stuff going on, other shit to worry about."
The shit in question involves Lou's crime family, which happens to feature Ed Harris and Dave Franco, of all people. And while there's plenty of lust and a smouldering Kristen Stewart, audiences are quickly reminded why Rose Glass is being considered by many as the new MVP of horror. All I will say is that there's blood — and lots of it.
While watching Love Lies Bleeding, it's impossible not to be intrinsically aware that this film showcases the talent that Kristen Stewart has had brewing inside her the entire time. While people who like women might spend a large portion of the film salivating, distracted by her mullet or the way she smokes cigarettes, if you thought Kristen Stewart was perfect for the role of an aloof, neurotic and standoffish gym owner, then you'd be right. Because the film was written with her in mind — before she'd even agreed to it.
Glass explains that she co-wrote the script with Weronika Tofilska and had one person in mind when it came to the character of Lou — Kristen Stewart. So much so, that the director says that she wrote "kind of all of it" with her in mind.

"The whole script was written with Kristen's face floating around."

Rose Glass On casting Kristen Stewart In Love Lies Bleeding
"You go through the mental exercise of who your fantasy cast would be, so Kristen was in there from the very beginning, though we obviously didn't know if she would do it or not," Glass divulges. "The whole script was written with Kristen's face floating around. Every now and again, you'd try and blur it — what if she says no?! But I found this character very easy to imagine her in it."
"I just love the idea of her playing a moody heartthrob who just smokes too much and has this aloof anti-hero, morally ambiguous kind of thing," she laughs. "She's a bit like a film noir anti-hero, but a modern version of it — haunted by her past, smokes too much, a delicious sort of neurosis just under the surface. And daddy issues, I guess... this kind of enigmatic, dark, mysterious, closed-off hardness, but not too far underneath that was this fizzy neurosis in a way that I find very appealing."
At times, you wouldn't be amiss to think that the film could have been Twilight in another universe, soaked in werewolf allegories and even lingering on a shot of Stewart eating an apple, perhaps a reference to the first Twilight book cover. But for Glass, she wanted to play on the understanding of Stewart herself as a persona.
"I was kind of playing on the understanding of her as Kristen Stewart, not so much as Bella Swan, because I've got to say, I've seen the first movie... but I sort of missed the Twilight extravaganza," Glass laughs. "But Kristen Stewart as a persona, I think it's definitely playing into that a little bit. The things people love or hate about her, I think are in full effect in this film."
"Although with the Bella Swan stuff, there are some flashbacks in the film that we try to look as teenager-y as possible so we had to give her a wig and smooth her face," Rose recalls. "And she came on set and she was like, "I look like Bella Swan"... so that was funny."
Since the film was announced, the internet has collectively gone into a meltdown over the idea of seeing 'muscle mommy' representation on the screen — that is, larger, muscular women. While Glass says that she didn't previously know the term, she's "embracing" it. I've learnt all these new phrases," she laughs.
But for Glass, she says that she's always been interested in the female body. "I guess I've always been interested in bodies and the relationship people have with them," she says, adding that the juxtaposition between Stewart and O'Brian's bodies is very intentional. "Jackie's pushing herself to an extreme over the course of the film... whereas Lou's just this string bean, a wisp of a person who's just slowly killing herself."
"I think in some way, Lou [Stewart] is sort of living vicariously through Jackie [O'Brian]. There's sort of like this Frankenstein creating monster dynamic at play."
Co-writing the script is a far cry from Glass' debut feature Saint Maud, which she describes as a "very insular, stressful, not-very-happy kind of process." But in writing the film in tandem with Tofilska, Glass found it to be a much more generous process.
"I came to Tofilska with a very initial, basic version of the story, which is just something about a bodybuilder who has an unravelling while she's training for a competition," she says. "Then we just sort of brainstormed... it's a lot of twisty-turny kind of serial killer mapping out on a wall"
"It's a lot of morphing and feeling it out," Glass says. "Just like the process of body-building, I guess."
Love Lies Bleeding is in UK cinemas May 3rd.

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