Running Time: 120 min
Director: Anna Biller
Cast: Samantha Robinson, Gian Keys, Laura Waddell
(Queens Film Theatre , 19/3/17)
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.
“According to the experts, men are very fragile. They can get crushed down if you assert yourself in any way!”
The Love Witch is likely to be one of the maddest, most subversive and best films you’ll see all year. Feminist film auteur Anna Biller writes, directs, as well as, designs costumes and sets and often hand builds them for this retro in style yet progressive in content comedy laced with horror elements.
The film has been compared by many to the exploitation films, of the likes of Russ Meyer (Faster pussycat…..Kill!Kill!), but Biller has been quick to rebuke this, claiming it’s more inspired by 50s Hitchcock and Femme fatales from around the same period and earlier.
The fact is, with blend of different styles and influences, The Love Witch, is a truly unique film, with its own feel and themes. Set in a brilliantly paradoxical world, filled with anachronisms and where witches and the covens are an almost norm, somewhere on the line of a popular but strange cult, like Scientology in our own lives.
Although taking place in the Twenty first century, Biller gives many of the characters and sets an aesthetic straight from the late 60s, The Love Witch herself sports some especially groovy clothing as well as driving an undeniably cool blood red mustang. The film is shot 35mm which only helps to take you into the other-worldly experience, you would only normally have gotten in a different time.
The world sets itself up for some brilliantly funny moments. The comedy undoubtedly comes from the absurdity in the film and its parody of 1960s melodramas, however it’s done in an almost subtle way that you might simply mistake it for actually being one of those films if you spent half the time looking at your phone.
The comedy can sometimes be in costumes and sets, which are often ridiculous, over the top, yet always entertaining to look at, done with extreme care and attention to detail. Often are the jokes are absurdity of the dialogue such as when we hear our protagonist talk about how women should obsess over men. The genius here is, that while laughing the viewer is reminder of how far sexual equality and representation as progressed, especially in movies, since the days 1960s mellow dramas, but then gets us thinking on how definitely has not come far enough.
The supporting characters, are for the most part extremely two-dimensional to fit with the mellow-drama feel and the cast do well and being entertaining and often hilarious in their roles. The star, Samantha Robinson on the other hand, gives an extremely layered and impressive performance as the titular enchantress.
She is narcissistic, desperate, obsessive, delusional yet at times confident and more often than not charming with sinister hints, in her acting. She carries the film the whole way and she makes it seem effortless. I personally have never seen her in any form of media before, but i recommend everyone frequently check IMDb to see where she’ll pop up next.
The Love Witch is damn near perfect, its only flaw is that it is perhaps just ten minutes too long, with certain scenes that possibly could have been trimmed just slightly.
Its is undoubtedly the best film I’ve seen so far in 2017, and i will be genuinely surprised if anything beats it. The film is mad, hilarious, cool and very often thought provoking, but always entertaining. Unfortunately it’s already out of cinemas in Northern Ireland, but make sure to catch on VOD or buy in physical form.