Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Film Review - The Love Witch

Campy in the most exquisite way is the best phrase to describe Anna Biller's The Love Witch. The film is part Valley of The Dolls with a strong nod to 60's and early 70's fashion, feel and style. Elaine (Samantha Robinson) is a practicing white witch who has been forced to leave San Francisco due to an unfortunate incident. Elaine is all about love. Finding a man to love and please by giving him everything he wants. Her attitude brings a sharp and curt response from Trish (Laura Waddell) an acquaintance of Elaine's friend Barbara (Jennifer Ingrum) who offered the small town apartment to Elaine and insists her husband loves her for who she is so she does not have to satisfy all of his needs.

Elaine continues her attempts to find a man to love in her new town. She mixes potions to enhance her chances plus some other creations that she sells in the local magic shop in town. However our heroine is a little too heavy on the pour leading to overdoses resulting in suitors falling completely under her spell obsessed then overwhelmed.

Writer Director Anna Biller uses color, distinct fashion styles and plain dialogue to set the mood for her film. The first time Elaine is on screen red is the dominant palate. She is in a red convertible mustang dressed in red from head to toe with matching luggage. When she enters the apartment for the first time red is the colour that jumps out at the viewer. The narrative also lives on a primary instinctive level. Elaine sees a man; he falls under her spell then they are together at a lightning pace. The filming style uses a lot of tight framing especially on the eyes to communicate the central characters tractor beam like power over men pinpointing the moment it takes hold.  

Relative newcomer Samantha Robinson leads the line as Elaine. She's innocent and submissive at one moment then dominant and forceful the next. Director Biller also did the costume design for the film that's key in presenting the Elaine character robing Samantha mainly in late 60's solid basic colours from head to toe. British actress Laura Waddell is a great foil to Elaine as Trish in her first major role. She is a fiercely independent modern working woman who does not see her primary function to be is  pleasing her man's every desire. Jared Sanford is strong in the supporting role of Gahan. He's the head of the local Wiccan ramping up the creepy meter anytime on screen. He lingers too long on women that are not his wife while constantly introducing very young females into the coven fold.

The Love Witch is a feature that's hard to classify. It's part sexual thriller, heavily wacky, silly and more naturally funny than expected. The costume design and wardrobe both credited to the director set the scene and mood for the film. The cast mainly full of unknowns direct their performances into the best areas of late night fright films from days gone by. It's a unique watch that despite being a bit on the long side is worth a viewing.

*** Out of 4.

The Love Witch | Anna Biller | U.S.A. | 120 Minutes.

Tags: Spells, Potions, Spices, Pleasure, Witches, Ceremony, Rebirth, California, San Francisco, Small town, Minstrels.

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