If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power Movie Review

Accompanying the release of Halsey’s fourth studio album If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power, Colin Tilley directed a short film of the same name. The film, written by Halsey, premiered at IMAX Theatres Aug. 27, and can be found on HBO Max. The film follows Queen Lila (Halsey) as they struggle with the sudden death of the king (Vuk Celebic), and an unwanted pregnancy. 

The album, inspired by the artist’s very own pregnancy, is a concept album touching on the “the joys and horrors of pregnancy and childbirth” as well as femininity and sexuality. As shown in the 13-minute album reveal, Halsey draws inspiration from several Medieval and Renaissance artworks, such as “Madonna and the Child”, which is the main inspiration for the album cover. “It was very important to me that the cover art conveyed the sentiment of my journey over the past few months,” Halsey said on Instagram. “The idea that me as a sexual being and my body as a vessel and gift to my child are two concepts that can co-exist peacefully and powerfully. My body has belonged to the world in many different ways the past few years, and this image is my means of reclaiming my autonomy and establishing my pride and strength as a life force for my human being.”

To add to the fairy-tale-esque aesthetic of the film, there is also a hint of the supernatural in the form of The Seer (Sasha Lane), who is the first to bring attention to Queen Lila’s pregnancy, and even is there to deliver the baby. Throughout the movie, another figure, Lilith (Halsey), appears sporadically as a character only the audience and Queen Lila can see. Lilith, which also happens to be a name of one of the songs in the album, is a Biblical figure known to be the first independent woman after refusing to submit to Adam and leaving the Garden of Eden. Lilith is seen as an alter ego to Queen Lila, and often appears within mirrors and behind the Queen.

Due to the lack of major dialogue, the movie can be confusing, allowing the songs played throughout and the visuals to tell the story. Nevertheless, Halsey and Tilley have created not only an incredible short film with beautiful visuals and memorable songs, but an entire experience that was influenced by Halsey’s life as well as millions of women’s lives around the world.