Love Lies Bleeding Ending, Explained

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Summary

  • Love Lies Bleeding is a bold indie breakout with a seductive and thrilling storyline that keeps viewers engaged.
  • The shocking ending, with Jackie’s monstrous growth, cleverly foreshadows Jackie’s character arc and themes of self-acceptance.
  • The polarizing conclusion is a brilliantly symbolic representation of love, self-acceptance, and the destructive path of the characters.



Love Lies Bleeding is quickly proving itself one of the most audacious indie breakouts of 2024, and for good reason. It’s the sort of pulpy, thrilling, and seductive delight that moviegoers only get a few times a year if they’re lucky. Director Rose Glass broke out back in 2021 with the haunting Saint Maud, in which she demonstrated a keen eye for disturbing imagery that was impossible to look away from, and now, she’s topped herself with her sophomore outing.

The biggest point of discussion among viewers right now is the ending, in which a relatively grounded story takes a hard left turn into bizarre, symbolic territory. For some, the conclusion is a perfect encapsulation of the film’s previously established themes; for others, it’s too drastic a departure from what seemed initially like a somewhat plausible plot. We’re taking a look at the climactic turns that Love Lies Bleeding takes, what it all means, and how closely in line it is with the rest of the film.



What Happens to Lou and Jackie?

Love Lies Bleeding

Love Lies Bleeding

3.5/5

Release Date
March 8, 2024

Director
Rose Glass

Runtime
1hr 44min

Writers
Rose Glass , Weronika Tofilska

Read our review

The central tension in Love Lies Bleeding lies in the relationship between gym manager Lou (Kristen Stewart, in one of her best roles) and aspiring bodybuilder Jackie (Katy O’Brian), and the deadly path their romance takes them down. Trouble begins when Lou discovers that her brother-in-law JJ (Dave Franco) physically abused her sister Beth (Jena Malone) to the point of hospitalization, and she angrily vents to Jackie that she wants revenge. Jackie, volatile as a result of increased steroid use, breaks into JJ’s house and brutally beats him to death until his jaw is severed.


Lou dumps JJ’s body in a canyon and sets it on fire, taking the opportunity to frame her father Lou Sr. (Ed Harris), a gangster who often uses the canyon to dispose of his rival’s bodies. Things only get worse when Daisy (Anna Baryshnikov), a local girl with a crush on Lou, notices her driving JJ’s car, and she uses this to blackmail her into a relationship. Meanwhile, Lou Sr. threatens Jackie into killing Daisy to eliminate a witness, which she does.

Katy O'Brian and Kristen Stewart in front of truck in Love Lies Bleeding (2024)
A24

Lou Sr., no longer having any use for Jackie, plans to get her jailed on a homicide charge. However, when Lou learns about this, she breaks into her father’s manor, killing his guards along the way, and saves her girlfriend. Then, in one of the most shocking twists of the last few years, Jackie grows to a gargantuan size as a result of her steroid use and is ultimately the one to defeat Lou Sr. She and Lou then escape from the scene and leave town with the cops in pursuit.


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In another surprise, as Lou and Jackie (now back at her regular physical proportions) head off elsewhere, the final scene reveals that Daisy has miraculously survived her gunshot wound, forcing Lou to strangle her in the back of the truck. The closing moments refuse to glamorize the killing, and the last moments of the film depict Lou silently dumping Daisy’s body in a nearby field.

What Does It All Mean?


Despite seemingly coming out of nowhere, Jackie’s growth to monstrous proportions is actually cleverly foreshadowed throughout the first two acts. Every time we see Jackie taking steroids, her use is shown to have a subtle but notable physical effect; early on, as she makes love to Lou, we see her muscles and veins starting to bulge. And as we see with JJ’s brutal death, the steroid use also puts Jackie in a more violent mood. As she stands over JJ’s body, there is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment where Jackie seems to be inhumanly tall. All of this cleverly sets the stage for her Cronenbergian transformation in the finale.

But to signify what this means thematically, we have to look at Jackie’s central character arc. She built herself up as a bodybuilder in the first place to prove those in her life who doubted her wrong, and her final transformation, manifested through a need to save Lou from getting killed by her father, demonstrates a strange form of self-acceptance. As director Rose Glass explained, “I like the idea of Jackie being someone who feels invisible but aspired to create herself into this godlike figure, so we took it literally.”


It also represents an illustration of how Lou sees Jackie, as a sort of physically perfect goddess that she can’t help but lust for. Since we can surmise that the gigantic Jackie’s manifestation is shown from Lou’s point of view, it also hints at Lou’s somewhat myopic perspective, which proves crucial for the final scene. From the first time we meet her, Lou is determined to distance herself from her criminal father, convinced that she isn’t capable of being the kind of monster he is, and her romance with Jackie initially seems proof of this.

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But while this ending seems like a demonstration that “love conquers all,” it’s actually a deconstruction of this idea. Lou might be more like her father than she wants to admit, as she and Jackie have killed several people to escape her father’s reach. The film’s final moments, showing Lou silently strangling Daisy, remind us of how deadly her journey has really been, and how she and Jackie may actually be perfect for each other, as they’re equally willing to kill for the one they love.

A Polarizing But Brilliant Conclusion

Katy O'Brian as Jackie points gun with a surpressor off-screen in Love Lies Bleeding (2024)
A24


As polarizing as it’s already proven itself, the ending of Love Lies Bleeding is brilliant. Since the film from the beginning already had a slightly surrealistic bent, it feels less like a cheat than a beautifully symbolic distillation of the story’s themes of self-acceptance and love. But what’s more brilliant is how Glass, similarly to what she did in the haunting ending to Saint Maud, allows us a subjective glimpse of what Lou’s lust for Jackie means to her, before snapping us back to reality and showing us more objectively the path of destruction that their love has brought about.

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