Five years after her horror debut Saint Maud, Rose Glass is back with Love Lies Bleeding, a violent and darkly comic tale of a reclusive gym manager’s obsession with a bodybuilder.

The new erotic thriller tracks the electric and toxic dynamic between Lou (Kristen Stewart) and Jackie (Katy O'Brian) as their love ignites violence and draws them further into the web of Lou's criminal family.

Love Lies Bleeding and Saint Maud, which followed a recently converted Catholic nurse, might be very different in terms of story and tone, but both films pivot between fantasy and reality, keeping the audience guessing about what the characters are imagining and what’s actually occurring.

And nowhere is this more evident than in the finale, which takes a huge (and we mean huge) leap into the fantastical as Jackie and Lou are left fighting for their lives.

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So, what did that big visual twist in the final act actually mean? Read on for everything you need to know about the ending, including what Glass and O’Brian had to say about that scene.

Love Lies Bleeding ending explained

Katy O'Brian and Kristen Stewart on a truck in Love Lies Bleeding.
Love Lies Bleeding. A24.

From the off, it’s clear that Lou is keen to escape the clutches of her father, Lou Sr (Ed Harris), a local crime lord who also runs the local gun range - but she’s held back by the need to protect her sister Beth (Jena Malone), who is stuck in an abusive marriage to a man called JJ (Dave Franco).

When JJ attacks Beth and leaves her disfigured, Jackie – in what appears to be both a steroid-filled and love-struck rage – brutally murders JJ.

Knowing that it will frame Lou Sr and protect Jackie, Lou shoves JJ’s body in the back of his car and drives it to a canyon where she knows that her father has been disposing of his enemies' bodies for years.

While this operation runs relatively smoothly, Lou is spotted by one of the town's residents – local addict Daisy (Anna Baryshnikov) – who also happens to be obsessed with Lou.

Lou begs Jackie to lay low for a while to keep the police at bay, but Jackie refuses to and heads off to the bodybuilding competition in Las Vegas that she's long been dreaming of competing in.

However, when her turn on stage comes around, Jackie's reality becomes increasingly distorted, as she imagines herself near the canyon where JJ’s body was dumped and eventually vomits Lou out of her mouth in a steroid-fuelled hallucination.

The scene then cuts back to reality, as Jackie vomits on stage and attacks one of the other contestants.

In an unexpected turn of events, Jackie is bailed out of prison by Lou Sr, who subsequently manages to persuade her that he's on her side – and that she should shoot Daisy, the sole witness to the murder of JJ.

Jackie does exactly that, but it soon becomes apparent that Lou Sr isn't trying to help Jackie at all, and that he's planning for her to take the fall for Daisy's death, as well as all his previous crimes.

After Lou threatens to reveal her father’s secrets to the police if he hurts Jackie, Lou Sr sends a police officer to kill Lou. But he turns out to be no match for Lou, and she kills him in self-defence.

Lou then heads to her father's mansion, where Jackie is being held hostage, and the film then culminates in a head-to-head between Jackie and Lou and Lou Sr.

Why does Jackie turn into a giant in Love Lies Bleeding?

Kristen Stewart and Katy O'Brian as Jackie in Love Lies Bleeding resting their heads on one another's
Kristen Stewart and Katy O'Brian as Jackie in Love Lies Bleeding.

Initially, Lou Sr manages to get the upper hand, shooting his daughter in the leg and cruelly taunting her by pressing his finger in the gunshot wound.

However, Jackie soon comes to the rescue and undergoes a huge (and we mean monster-sized 50-feet) transformation as she effortlessly picks Lou Sr off the ground before hurling him back down.

Lou then points a gun at her father’s head, but she doesn’t fire. Instead, she leaves him tied up and escapes with Jackie before the police arrive.

Glass's camera then follows the fantasy they both share, showing Jackie and Lou, now both giants, running among the clouds and taking huge strides across the earth.

Speaking about her interpretation of the superhero-like giant scene, O'Brian exclusively told RadioTimes.com: "Yeah, when I was reading the script, after I threw up Kristen, I thought nothing would surprise me, and then I read that I become 30 feet, or whatever, and I was like, 'What is this?'

"It took me a while to sit down and really think it through, and I think with discussions with Rose, she was like, 'See what you want into it but also have fun with it,' and there was originally a clip of the 50-foot woman that I was working out to."

She continued: "And I think it was this self-actualisation, in a weird way. Originally, I was supposed to be naked, and fortunately they decided to put me in a bikini and make me look like I wanted to look on stage, like if I had won.

"So that informed the self – I’d achieved what I’d wanted to achieve and it wasn’t getting mild fame through bodybuilding, it was saving the love of my life, essentially."

Glass added that she nearly chickened out of the surreal twist, but that an alternative "grounded" ending felt like too much of a cop-out.

"I think similarly to St Maud, I had the ending quite early on, and then a lot of it’s kind of finding your way to it," she explained.

"So we had a version where that happened really on. Because I think for me and Weronika [Tofilska], my co-writer, what happened felt to us like a very natural progression of the story that comes before.

"It felt like very natural, and then at some point we did get cold feet. So we did write versions where we kept it very grounded and in the real world, and essentially the same kind of dynamics played out, but just in a very literal way, and it just always felt like a bit of a cop out, and kind of unsatisfying."

What happened to Lou and Jackie? Final scene meaning explained

Kristen Stewart as Lou in Love Lies Bleeding sitting covered in blood
Kristen Stewart as Lou in Love Lies Bleeding. A24

While the giant scene is the film’s climax, it isn’t actually the end of the film.

In the final few minutes of the movie, Lou and Jackie head west in Lou’s pickup, cruising along. But their peace is disturbed when they hear a bang from the back of the truck and realise that, while Daisy may have been shot, she’s very much still alive.

Lou takes matters into her own hands, finishing Daisy off for good before dragging her body into the desert.

Here, again, Glass is commenting on the cyclical nature of violence, as well as the fine line between desire and obsession, and love and toxicity.

Speaking about the final scene's meaning, O’Brian said: "I think we see that Lou’s character starts to smoke again and is back to her old ways, and Jackie is blissfully ignorant again, so I think it’s kind of like, 'This is just going to go downhill again.'"

Glass added: "It’s definitely a bit of a double-edged sword - it’s, again, like a darkly comic ending, and definitely from one character’s perspective it’s a tragic ending.

"But for our heroes, yeah, it’s probably not everyone’s idea of a feel-good movie, but to me it was a little bit how I saw it.

"And yeah, I guess there’s... I had many a friend [that] when they knew what the story was about, [they were] like 'don’t kill them'. So yeah, I was kind of committed to following that through."

Why did Jackie throw up Lou in Love Lies Bleeding?

Like all of Jackie’s violent moments, it’s suggested that the dream-like sequence in which she vomits and births Lou is fuelled both by her steroid use and another kind of rage – one that's fuelled by love.

Speaking about the scene, Glass told Dazed: "Lou and Jackie have this monstrous rage and that turns each other on, and their love for each other is extreme and all over the place. One second, they are fighting on the streets, another second, they are embracing each other.

"I’m interested in seeing women making terrible decisions and really making a mess of things. When Jackie throws up and gives birth to Lou in this dream-like sequence, we were thinking of how lovers consume each other in this kind of dependent relationship."

She continued: "When Wera and I were first writing it, the idea was of a Pygmalion kind of thing where one woman creates the other and controls her, then it all gets out of hand. We were not trying to let them off the hook easily for this insane love."

Love Lies Bleeding arrived in UK cinemas on Friday 3rd May 2024.


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