A mere five years ago the movie world bore witness to writer/director Rose Glass' entrance into the world of cinema with Saint Maud. Chilling, thrilling, and monumentally well done, Glass' feature film debut was nothing short of a massive success. From the quiet meditative filming approach, to the audacious minimalism of Glass' writing, Saint Maud put the world on notice for whatever Glass had coming next.
We were anxiously waiting for her sophomore follow up, but we could never be truly prepared for what was to come.
Rose Glass has once again pushed the envelope of cinema with the tremendous Love Lies Bleeding. An action thriller with elements of horror sprinkled in, Glass' follow up to Saint Maud is ten times more audacious in scope. But somehow the film still retains all of the grounded, meticulous crafting that made Saint Maud such a success.
The always wonderful Kristen Stewart plays Lou, a reticent gym manager that spends most of her days cleaning up shit. Her gym is full of classic late 80's muscle men that have seen Predator too many times. That is until Jackie (Katy O'Brian), a drifter body builder hitch hiking her way to Vegas for a competition, shows up to train. Focusing on the scorching love between Lou and Jackie, Love Lies Bleeding examines just how far you would go to be with someone. Portraying Lou and Jackie as a pseudo Bonnie and Clyde couple there's inherent power in their love that shows up throughout the film in a variety of ways. One powerful motif of the film is how power can be gifted, or earned. Lou's power comes from love, Jackie's power comes from muscle, while Lou's estranged father Lou Sr. (Ed Harris) gets his power from guns. Running a local gun range in the town, Lou Sr. also happens to be something of a local crime lord, sending guns over the border and avoiding federal capture.
Set in the 80's, Rose Glass is able to construct a wildly stereotypical 80's film dripping in machismo. Its full of guns, muscles, and sex but the way in which she circumnavigates the pitfalls of being reductive by subverting the expectations of these themes is astonishing. Each character is carefully crafted to follow their motivations while bouncing off of one another creating a nuanced narrative and compelling characters. Not to mention the intricate layering of twist after twist, each one increasingly brutal, builds up tension and thrills until one of the biggest wtf finales you can think of. The ending may not work for everyone, but examining it from the point of view that Love Lies Bleeding provides made me fall in love with its love is larger than life attitude.
While I could fawn over Glass' writing and directing all day long, Love Lies Bleeding is a rousing success on all fronts. Stewart and O'Brian are phenomenal together, creating a sizzling on screen romance that's sexy and believable through their independent and joint performances. An attentive, yet revolting, sound design featuring a fantastic amount of squelching builds a tremendous atmosphere. An atmosphere that expands with focused vision with Clint Mansell's vein popping score that accents the contours of the film much like the low neon lighting emphasizing the musculature of Lou's gym patrons and Jackie.
Overall, Love Lies Bleeding is a complete and utter triumph. Its examination of power and obsession while being hilariously thrilling is nothing short of awe inspiring. Glass is a welcome and amazingly unique voice in film who has tackled everything in front of her.
Another one of my favorites from the festival deserves another beer from Offset Bier! When I was examining the menu for my next victim, the brewtender suggested something I don't think I'd ever heard of. A smoked beer? I wasn't sure what to think of such a suggestion, but I like beer so hey why not?
To say my naive worldview was opened up by Offset Bier's Rauchbier Marzen would be an understatement. This smoked beer is a sumptuous meal of flavors. Ranging from the smokey malt, to the sweet caramels of an amber, the Rauchbier Marzen is a smooth drinking experience from start to finish. But its also exciting as every sip introduces a new twist as equally delightful as the one before.
It only makes sense that my favorite beer from my time at Sundance goes with my favorite film of Sundance! Equally entertaining, deliciously intense and full of twists and turns that make the experience an undeniable thrill.
Just imagine what Rose Glass can do for a third film!