Feminist Film Month: The Love Witch (Film) Review

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You know when, on first sight, you catch a glimpse of something that speaks to you? Like it was made for your eyes only?

This film is that. It’s probably one of the prettiest things I’ve ever laid eyes on, and then some. But does this love at first sight have the potential to turn into real love?

Read on, lovers! (And just in time for the worst day of the year, too. WOOOO!) 🤢🤢🤢

*Spoilers*

The Love Witch (2016)

Director: Anna Biller
Stars: Samantha Robinson, Jeffrey Vincent Parise, Laura Waddell

IMDB Synopsis: 

A modern-day witch uses spells and magic to get men to fall in love with her, in a tribute to 1960s pulp novels and Technicolor melodramas.

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Positively pink

My Review

Elaine Park (Robinson) is a stone cold fox and new to town. I know it’s shitty to merit a woman solely on her looks but since Elaine’s face is arguably one of her strongest powers, it is worth remarking upon. She’s supernaturally hot and no mistake.

Turns out she is fleeing San Francisco following the mysterious death of her husband, for which she has been questioned by the po po. Taking up residence in the most psychedelic apartment on earth, which belongs to her friend Barbara, she befriends Trisha (Waddell), who lives downstairs (I think).

Even Trisha has to remark upon how pretty Elaine is on first meeting, so I don’t feel so bad. The two women go to tea together at an all female tearoom and get to know each other a little better (not in the hot way). Trish is quite shocked when Elaine lets slip that all she wants in life is to love and be loved, and to serve and reward sexually the lucky man in return.

“You sound as if you’ve been brainwashed by the patriarchy!” ~Trish

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“I’m sorry, what were you saying? I seem to have developed a migraine…”

This is an old-fashioned view after all and Trish makes it known that she completely disagrees. It isn’t clear exactly when this movie is set due to the distinctly sixties vibe but still, women have moved on, man and are no longer subservient slaves. You get me?

Elaine soon sets her sights on university professor Wayne (Parise) who takes one look at her and sweeps her up to his cabin in the woods. Like I’ve been saying since the beginning of time, nothing good ever comes from a cabin in the wood, why does nobody ever listen?

Things take a dark turn when Elaine’s sexy love spell goes horribly wrong and she gets what she’s so passionately wished for (for about 5 minutes). I won’t spoiler every little thing but let’s say, only one person leaves the cabin that weekend.

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“Can you dig it?”

There’s a funny scene where Elaine mixes her love potion using her own urine and a used tampon. As she completes the recipe, she muses about men’s aversion to periods. Sadly for our love witch, her spell is flawed but that can’t keep the #1 Fan of True Love™ down for long.

“Women bleed, it’s beautiful. And most men have never even seen a used tampon…” ~Elaine

Along the way we meet some of Elaine’s witchy friends who congregate, much to the consternation of the regulars, at a burlesque club in town. On Amateur Night, our magical queens take to the stage themselves. They appear to be lead by a really creepy wizard type and Barbara (Jennifer Ingrum) is there too.

As I type this I realise that this tale is somewhat light on plot, or if not light, repetitive. Elaine has a pattern and her pattern is love, lose, love, lose, love and lose. I feel her so hard tbh, as will most women. After all, who hasn’t put all their eggs into one man’s basket, only to be let down by his constant bullshit – and then accidentally poisoned him to death had to start all over again?

As the bodies rack up so do the clues, and Elaine is not what you’d call fastidious in her evidence hiding. A hot but dickish police officer, Griff (Gian Keys) is hot on the case of the death of Wayne, whose body has now been discovered, along with a cornucopia of witchy paraphernalia. Soon he’ll have more crime and evidence to add to his caseload, as Elaine claims another victim, this time someone much closer to home.

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“Can’t believe I have to make this potion ‘vegan’, fucking Brighton…”

But first, Griff has some love business to attend to and takes his prime suspect Elaine away for the weekend where they stumble across some sort of medieval orgy and get fake married. Griff is a pig and doesn’t love Elaine, which I know you can’t fake and shouldn’t, but after a confrontation in the club, you’ll hate his commitment phobic arse a lot more.

During this exchange, Elaine is attacked by the anti-witch punters. They try to burn her, proving that it might be modern-day but attitudes towards anyone slightly different, particularly of the witch variety have not moved on one iota. Griff reluctantly saves his fake wife and she wants to reward his white knight heroics in the only way she knows how. Sexily.

There’s an ending in which something happens but I’m not giving it to you. Will Elaine go to prison to face up to her love crimes? Will Griff be punished for being such a fucking melt? Only one way to find out and let me assure you, this is one trip you need to take!

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“I love you to death.”

My Thoughts

Well, this is certainly a refreshing ride and unlike anything I’ve seen since maybe ever? That said, this has shades of The Stepford Wives, Bewitched, Hammer Horror and Russ Meyer woven through it and you can certainly feel the sixties emanating from the screen. Visually you can’t fault it, the soft lense loves Samantha Robinson so much and her Noir-ish yet man-pleasing Elaine is so tongue in cheek she’s destined to become a cult heroine. God I hope so.

I don’t think this film will be for everyone and maybe some won’t get what it’s trying to say but to me it’s a pastiche, a joyful piss take and I really enjoyed myself. From a feminist stand point it takes a different approach to woman power using humour and thank god for that.

Elaine has old skool ideals that may shock but she’s also a man killer, dispensing good for nothings like yesterday’s rubbish. I’d have liked more female solidarity beyond a couple of the witches sitting together at the bar, but bigger picture I guess Elaine is doing good for womankind (thinking about it, I wonder if this film deliberately fails the Bechdel test?). And it goes without saying, but the costumes and sets are stunningly beautiful.

It is overly long though and the medieval/renaissance segment wasn’t really for me, I’ll be honest. Towards the last half an hour my interest started to wane and I’m annoyed about that, I wanted to hand over my five stars no questions asked.

My Rating

3.5/5. Points lost for being too long and losing its impact toward the end. Otherwise, get on it because it really is something else.🔮

Did Jillian feel a love spell was in order or did she fall for Elaine and her story unaided? Find out here.❤️

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Ps. Apparently this does pass the test, when Trish and Elaine aren’t talking about love and men. ✊🏻✊🏻✊🏻

 

6 thoughts on “Feminist Film Month: The Love Witch (Film) Review

  1. The lead actress is ridiculously attractive. I’m with you there.
    Lol I forgot to mention the tampon spell, but I loved everything about that part.
    Elaine was so cool, and I’m still puzzling over her character.
    This was def at least 20 mins too long, and what the fuck was with that medieval festival in the woods??? I have to believe witches are into cooler shit than that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! It’s not perfect but I definitely think it’s worthwhile and the director is one to watch, she has a lot of interesting things to say. I also get the impression she has a very strong idea of how she wants her work tonne, despite criticism. Which is okay by me!

      Like

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