“I don’t really mind death. I’ve buried people before.” –Elaine, The Love Witch
Oh, The Love Witch, what am I going to do with you?
From your opening moments, from your very first shot I immediately got you, I dug what you were laying down, I grokked your meaning, and I was truly in love. When witch Elaine (Samantha Robinson) zooms down the (very obviously rear-projected) highway in her red Mustang, wearing her red dress, red heels, and red lacquered fingernails, with her red cigarette case by her side and her red suitcases in the trunk, I nearly clapped my hands with glee. This was going to be weird and wild and , hopefully, wonderful.
Missed it by that much. I’m literally holding my thumb and forefinger apart by about an eighth of an inch right now. Maybe a sixteenth.
Elaine is enjoying her freedom after leaving a mental institution (she went nuts after her husband “left”–or did he drink poisoned wine?) and moves from San Francisco to Eureka to find true lasting love with the man of her dreams, using sex magic to get the job done. Unfortunately, the men she latches onto, using the intensity of her amazingly-mascara’d-and-eye-shadowed gaze (seriously, the eye makeup in this movie is faaaaabulous, and deserves a title card all its own), end up whimpering and crying and unable to function once they consummate their union. Elaine, the love witch, is just that good. So, naturally, she has to discard this boyfriend for a better, stronger one.
Everything about this movie screams “60s/70s TV Movie Of The Week,” and that’s a huge compliment. Meticulous detail has been paid to the costumes, the decor, the afore-mentioned makeup, the cars, the buildings, even the deliberate and slightly slow cadence and enunciated delivery of the dialogue. It’s like The Stepford Wives had a baby with Suspiria and then that baby watched Bewitched and was inspired to make this movie.
What makes this even more interesting is that, even though all indications are that this movie takes place forty or so years ago, there are some deliberate anachronisms (a cell phone, a current-model BMW) that throw the audience slightly off-kilter: what is going on? When is it going on? And what is that renaissance fair doing in the middle of nowhere?
Director Anna Biller does have a method to her madness, and she is very successful with it. She has some strong points of view about feminism, and the ongoing dance between men and women. When she has characters say lines like, “We strive for a male-female polarity and to regain our primal power as goddesses,” and then intercuts that with a burlesque stripper enthusiastically shedding her clothes while a group of men happily cheer her on, she walks that razor’s edge of either losing her point by being too jokey, or being too obvious by using a sledgehammer instead of a scalpel.
She absolutely walks that tricky edge the entire length of the movie, and should be grandly applauded for that. It’s a tough act, but she is more than up to the task, and is ably supported by the entire cast and crew.
The only criticism I have with the movie is that, at exactly 2 hours, it is a tad overdone. It’s a little bloated. If it had been about 20 minutes shorter, I would have loved it. As it stands, I merely like it a lot. But that is way more than I need to recommend it to you. Put on your eyeliner, clip in your hair bump, get naked with your coven (yep), and fall under the spell of The Love Witch. Uncle Mike sez check it out.
|The Love Witch|
|Written By:||Anna Biller|