Review: “The Love Witch” Is A Perfect Blend Of Style And Substance
Writer/director/everything-in-between Anna Biller accomplishes more than a few impressive things, in her new film “The Love Witch”. Mixing her own witch’s brew of glorious Technicolor, wardrobe, and score straight out of the 60s, and giving it a modern day setting, Biller grabs onto your attention from the opening frames and doesn’t let go. The film is a wonderful exercise in throwback and captures the feel of the psychosexual flicks of the 60s (so much so that you would think Biller had a time machine hidden in her garage), while adding in some fun twists to freshen things up.
Elaine (Samantha Robinson) has had a tough time finding the one thing she wants in life… true love. She wants it so much, in fact, that she murders her distant, uncaring husband and decides to be reborn as a witch. Surely the powers and potions that come with witchcraft will aid her in her search for the perfect man. Then she will be able to commit herself completely to the romance she has craved for so long.
Elaine flees San Fransisco, and heads to a small town where she sets up shop (candles, potions, voodoo dolls, and pentagrams) in a rental home. She then sets out to find passionate love, and goes through a series of romantic encounters with local men. Using both her hallucinogenic potions and her wiles, Elaine has no problem seducing whichever man she desires. the problem is that each one is more emotional and needy than the last, and nothing like the “Manly” man of Elaine’s dreams.
Robinson absolutely owns the screen, and commands your attention with a subtle, soft, and seductive performance. While the entire cast give strong performances, it is the young star that carries the film. The fact that she does so with such ease, and grace, and the genuine feel of a 60s movie star is the cherry on top of the already eye-popping aesthetic that Biller has created.
The story is, like it’s key character, beautiful and tragic. Watching Elaine do everything in her power to get the only thing she has ever wanted, only to have her suitors fall short (and mostly dead) time after time feels like ending “Hansel and Gretel” with the witch eating them. Not that I am complaining. I love dark, unhappy endings, especially when they juxtapose the fairy tale cliche the audience expects.
“The Love Witch” wonderfully pays homage to the pulp and witchcraft films of the 60s. It is a perfect blend of style and substance, and it contains a star-making turn from Robinson. Biller certainly deserves all of the accolades she has been receiving, as she has crafted what is sure to become a cult classic. If you are a fan of witchcraft movies, Technicolor films, or horror films that are driven by strong, female characters I suggest seeking this one out ASAP.