Throughout the hour-long duration of If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power -- the film experience created to accompany the release of Halsey’s fourth studio album of the same name (out Friday, Aug. 27) -- few lines are exchanged among the characters. The film stars Halsey as the fiery Queen Lila, the target of dark lashing outs courtesy of an abusive king, a vengeful aristocrat and a distrustful matriarch, among others who exchange whispers within the royal court. In writing the film, the singer minimized the amount of included dialogue to allow the music to shape the film’s narrative –– a decision justified in the weight put into the words that are spoken. “This woman will not go quietly,” the aristocrat worriedly declares to the court early in the film. “She’s already made that clear.”
Much like their character, Halsey has never really been one to approach their art in any quiet, subtle way. From the dystopia of her debut album Badlands (2015) to the Shakespearean tragedies reimagined in Hopeless Fountain Kingdom (2017) and the introspective outpour found on Manic (2020), building elaborate worlds on a foundation of theatrics is nothing new to them. But the Tudor period narrative created within the visuals of If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power to depict the physical and mental entanglement of sexuality and bodily autonomy with pregnancy and birth centers Halsey in their most exhilarating creative pocket yet, able to communicate the most ghastly of emotions with just a look before they’ve uttered a single word.
Directed by Colin Tilley, who previously helmed the visuals for Manic singles “Without Me” and “You Should Be Sad,” If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power follows Queen Lila through the death of her husband, the king, as she “wrestles with the manipulative chokehold of love to ultimately discover that the ability to create life (and end it) unlocks the paranormal power within her,” the film’s synopsis reads. Power premiered in limited IMAX theaters throughout North America on Wednesday (Aug. 25), with additional viewings scheduled in European theaters on Thursday (Aug. 26) and internationally on Saturday (Aug. 28). The film marks the singer’s technical acting debut, ahead of her appearance alongside Euphoria’s Sydney Sweeney in the developing TV series The Player's Table.