Movie: If I Cant Have Love, I Want Power (HDCAM)
Download If I Cant Have Love, I Want Power HDCAM Film Executive Produced By Halsey
American singer and songwriter, Ashley Nicolette Frangipane, known professionally as Halsey’s latest, the rock opus If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power, came alongside an hour-long fairy-tale-inspired film, which hit Imax screens ahead of the album’s August 27 release. Maybe, at the time, you found yourself thinking, If I can’t have an Imax screening, I want the movie to hit streaming. Well, you’re in luck. HBO Max acquired If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power, per a release, and it’ll hit the service tomorrow, October 7.
The film stars Halsey as Queen Lila, navigating her pregnancy and conflicts within the royal court; it was written by Halsey and directed by frequent collaborator Colin Tilley. The album it accompanies, Halsey’s fourth, found the performer teaming with Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross to experiment with everything from industrial to shoegaze to punk. News of the film hitting streaming comes just days before Halsey debuts their new music on Saturday Night Live, where they’ll serve as musical guest alongside host Kim Kardashian West on October 9.
The Gist: A distraught Queen Lila (Halsey) looks down at the corpse of the king, who died surprised. All the eyes of the gathered court are on the queen — they’re suspicious — but there’s someone else watching, too, a witch or a sorceress in a gilded mirror, and it’s her that Lila is watching. “Bells in Santa Fe” from If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power plays in the background. “Better off dead, so I reckon I’m headed to Hell instead…”
The queen dons her gothic mourning ware, and at the funeral, talk of the king sloughing off his mortal coil is matched with deathly glares in Lila’s direction. Fuck ‘em. As “Girl Is a Gun” plays, its chattering rhythm recalling the aggression inherent in ICHLIWP co-writer and producer Trent Reznor’s most representative material, the queen and her closest homies drain the royal wine cellar, party on the promenade, upend the peasantry when they go ham on the town square, and joy ride their horses into a deep wood. And it’s there amidst the trees, inside a forest hovel, that Lila encounters a sightless mystic (American Honey and Loki actress Sasha Lane) who helps her through the initial blush of her pregnancy.
Three months, four months, and Lila is listless. By her third trimester, the aristocratic apparatus has had enough. She is to be executed, and her baby raised by the court — if it’s a boy, that is. “I went swimming with the devil at the bottom of a lake,” sings Halsey in “The Lighthouse,” and Queen Lila flees the castle. And between the eventual birth of her baby and the looming fact of her date with the guillotine, Lila is again visited by the sorceress, whose hand has seemingly guided these events all along.
What Movies Will It Remind You Of? In its boutique depiction of an era, lifting what it requires from the historical record to tell a stylized story, there’s a sense here of the delicious imagination that informed Yorgos Lanthimos’ Academy Award-nominated 2018 film The Favourite. There’s also a conceptual dash of the hysterics and sexual imagery at play in something like the controversial 1971 Ken Russell film The Devils, albeit in grandiose music video form.
Performance Worth Watching: Come for the music and the imagination at work; stay for the splendid couture. From lux black funereal finery and a turquoise and vermillion number built for expression to every color from gold to red in between, the costume design in IICHLIWP, courtesy of Law Roach from HBO Max’s voguing competition Legendary, drapes Halsey in every inch of vivid, sumptuous detail.
Memorable Dialogue: The royal court, stilted, judgy, and always scheming for their own longevity, has dismissed the queen as an interloper. “Gallivanting about with those harlot friends of yours…you walk with the widened gait of a whore.”
Queen Lila offers an incisive, vicious rejoinder. “As your queen, I’m allowed to behave in any way that I see fit. Or must I remind you that this widening gait once enveloped and devoured the man that you call your king?”
Sex and Skin: The If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power song “Lilith” soundtracks Halsey, or Queen Lila, and her attendants during a royal cleanse in the castle’s bathing chamber. And once the court, conspiring against her, casts the queen out, she unburdens herself wholly of their finery.
Our Take: Halsey’s music has often been accompanied by a gothic tinge. While their sound mostly manifests as electronic pop, the lyrical content twists knives into beating hearts, bets every bit of the soul against a double blank going the other way, and is forever inviting devils into the bedroom. So given that fervor, a Medieval cast to their If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power makes a lot of sense for Halsey. And as realized by Colin Tilley (he directed the clip for Halsey’s “Without Me”), the film employs rich visuals that bounce between influences, from Italian Renaissance paintings to a sample pack of swords-and-sorcery motion pictures. Through it all, the camera sweeps and pivots around Halsey, decked to the nines in bespoke cloth and jewels. Their Queen Lila is an independent woman in a bind, but as it turns out, dancing with the dark might be the best way forward. It’s some rewarding black tape for a very blue girl.
As an accompanying document to Halsey’s lauded new album If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power, which they wrote and produced with Reznor and Atticus Ross, IICHLIWP the movie joins other recent longform explorations of recorded material, like the live performance with elevated visuals of Billie Eilish’s Happier Than Ever: A Love Letter to Los Angeles or the stoned pastiche of Kasey Musgraves’ short film Star-Crossed. And for artists operating at an elite level, these are well-funded creative outlets that shoulder the load of marketing and promotion with style points added. But ideally, they also represent where the maker is coming from, and in that, If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power never loses hold of the vibes and modes of expression emanating from the person at its center.
Our Call: STREAM IT. Halsey superfans will undoubtedly perform blood sacrifices with this material. But for everyone else, If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power functions as a stylish rumination on the passageways of love and power set to a stuttering pop-electronic beat. Gaining attention from self-released music on social media platforms, she was signed by Astralwerks in 2014 and released her debut EP, Room 93, later that year. Halsey released her debut studio album, Badlands, in 2015.