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Sapphics in Scarlet: ‘Love Lies Bleeding’ Movie Review

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Pace chapter.

As soon as the credits rolled on Love Lies Bleeding, I immediately opened my Letterboxd to rate it five stars. Love Lies Bleeding takes place in New Mexico, following a young gym manager named Lou, her dark, creepy, bug-obsessed father, and her bodybuilding soon-to-be “girlfriend,” Jackie. Filled with intense emotions throughout, my attention was held from start to finish, and while the ending fit with the plot, I didn’t want the movie to end. 

The biggest piece of symbolism I noticed throughout this movie is the color red. Throughout this film, we are shown through red-tinted scenes that Lou’s father, Ed Harris, is just as creepy and horrible as he looks. These scenes seem to be memories from Lou’s past with her father, explaining the relationship (or lack thereof) between the two. The other uses of red throughout the movie are much more subtle but still noticeable and a nice touch. I believe that the symbolism of red represents the deep emotions of this movie. While red can represent love, passion, and lust it also represents sacrifice, danger, and unsettlement. 

Now, everyone should know that this movie is about the love (or lust and passion) between two women. I did find that there were some stereotypes within the movie, but I didn’t think it was harmful. As a lesbian myself, I found myself pointing them out and it made the movie feel more realistic as one of the few well-represented sapphic movies in general. I think Lou’s orange cat was one of the most minor but cute details of the movie, even more so because he makes it to the end of the movie with Lou and Jackie. For me, my cats are so important to me, and I find that lots of gay women feel the same way. Secondly, U-Haul lesbians. The term “U-Haul” is a way to explain gay women whose relationship moves at a very rapid speed. Jackie  moved in with Lou only a few days after they first met. I thought this detail was very relatable on top of being important to the plot. 

On March 13, I went to see Late Night with Seth Meyers, whose guest that day was none other than the Kristen Stewart. With the time she had on the show, they discussed the film. Stewart herself describes it: “It had such its own fingerprint, its own identity. It felt like a movie that was in a time capsule, like yes, it is a period piece, but it feels like a movie that was made in the ‘80s versus like a movie made now about the ‘80s.” Being present during this interview, I felt the love that went into this movie before I was even able to see it, and I better understood the care that went into it as I watched it.

While I rated this movie on Letterboxd, I also added it to my favorites. This movie was intense and filled with anger like no other movie I’ve seen yet. On the other hand, there was a beautiful and heavenly-like sapphic energy throughout the movie as well. This fantasy aspect is what made the movie fulfilling to me. In the moment, it felt a little silly, but looking back, when I’m able to rewatch this movie, I’ll be looking forward to these parts.

Zoey Ranno is a writer for Pace's chapter of Her Campus. This is her first year writing for the magazine and she's excited to see what comes of this new experience! Outside of Her Campus, she is completing her undergrad as a Women and Gender Studies major with minors in Peace and Justice, Political Science, and Management. This is her first and only organization she's apart of, though she can't wait to join more. She recently has started volunteering at Sage, an advocacy and services program for LGBTQ elders in her spare time. In her personal life, Zoey loves to read and crochet. She is currently working on a year long crochet blanket that she's super excited about. She can usually be found with her friends around campus and loves to explore new parts of the city when she has the time!