The Love Witch, written and directed by Anna Biller, is one of those films, that if you’re willing to get on-board with its kooky, indulgent approach, you’re going to have an absolute blast. It’s want to harken back to a time in cinema that is long forgotten (60’s Technicolor melodramas) makes it such a fun watch, but also its want to explore the more free, uninhibited times of 60’s cinema, goes towards highlighting the frankly stinted, fearful ways in which films of today are presented. There are many points to touch upon in this review and I’ve not even scratched the surface, so let’s get on with the fuller review, shall we?
The story itself is exactly what you’d expect from a film like this. It comes filled with all the schlocky, pulpy drama that you’d expect; it’s so much fun. Elaine – played by Samantha Robinson – is a witch, and she has moved to a new town after the unfortunate but suspicious death of her husband, Jerry – played by Stephen Wozniak. It is there that she uses her knowledge to brew potions; ones that she hopes will help her find the man of her dreams and they’ll fall in love. However, her demanding need for love seems to be too much for some men to handle.
With, The Love Witch, I feel you’ll know very early on if it is going to be a film for you. I remember thinking (in the beginning) that perhaps it was just a little too niche or try hard; that how much it wanted to be like the films of a time long gone was just a little too… much. Well, that initial assessment was so wrong. The level of grandiose indulgence makes this such an enjoyable watch. So often was I smiling at the campy, fun, fully aware of what it is and not giving a damn film. Everything was bathed in colour and an odd vulnerable naivety that just felt so endearing, which is actually a weird way to feel, when you consider just how explicit and unreserved the film is at times.
It was in the big, indulgent, so full of life scenes that I found myself just falling deeper and deeper under the films spell. It entrances you with its style and it seduces you with its characters and it excites you with how uninhibited it all is. If you’re not willing to open yourself up to the very different adventure of, The Love Witch, then you’re really not going to have a good time. When you see the crazy train that is the film passing by; going in the opposite direction of what is now the norm, you need to just go with it, jump onto the train and let it take you where it wants to go. If you don’t, well then you’re going to miss out on something that is unabashedly what it wants to be. And frankly you’ll miss out on something that is just a pure joy to experience.
But it goes beyond that. There is more to the film to enjoy. The work; the effort that so clearly went into making the film look and feel the way it does, is certainly one of the main things that makes, The Love Witch standout.
So much effort and attention to detail is put into the overall aesthetic; making it look just like the types of film that were so prevalent in the 60’s. Though interestingly, there are modern-day additions, like mobile phones and cars that were clearly released in that last few years. Now I don’t know why they were added in, but it surprisingly didn’t mess with the overall style. It kind of felt like the 60’s and modern-day had melded with one another; creating some alternate existence. Either way, the film still very much looks the part.
And then there is the lead performance from Samantha Robinson, which just fits the whole tone of the film perfectly. Her longing, seductive looks, or how she ever so slightly whispers her alluring voice into a man’s ear, all make her someone who you can’t look away from. She is also aided by the way in which the film is shot and the make-up and hair stylists who help create her look. When the camera slowly moves in, focusing in on her eyes which look like large pools of sexual desire. It’s all just blends perfectly together. You have someone, along with the film around her, who is just the total centre of every moment.
So you have the incredible looking sets, with props and costumes and a particular lighting tone that all help to drop you into the world of this film. The work that director, Anna Biller and her team did to make this film fully look the part, then also plays perfectly with the overall writing and structure. Bizarre renaissance fairs with fake weddings, or a ritual that is being carried out by a group of naked witches; everything is just so of the time, and so different to look at.
I could probably go on and on about just how much I enjoyed my experience with, The Love Witch. I am fully accepting of how niche and perhaps pretentious it is to like it. But honestly, I don’t care. With how much I enjoyed my time with the film; with how much visual goodness I got to look at; with how much the films lead performance was truly entrancing. It all meant that I was really happy with my choice to sit down and take the time to watch it.
So I will be recommending The Love Witch. As I’ve said already, it’s not a film for everyone. But if you’re open to the idea of the film and it seems like something you’d be interested in checking out, then please do it. I think you’ll really enjoy your time with it.
So as I’m sure you can imagine, I’d love to hear what you think about The Love Witch. So let me know in the comments down below. If you’re interested, you can follow my blog directly, or you can follow my Twitter – @GavinsRamblings. But the most important part of my wrap-up is the thank you. So thank you for taking the time to read my review and I hope you want to return at some point.