Reviews / Women Film-makers

REVIEW- The Love Witch: On witchcraft, technicolor and female sexuality

The Love Witch is one of the most beautiful films I have ever watched, mainly due to director Anna Biller’s decision to shoot it on 35mm film. Her dedication to paying homage to 60’s and 70’s Technicolor movies is evident through the gorgeous costumes and sets that Biller made herself. The sumptuous colours of Elaine’s apartment and her colourful makeup seem give it an otherworldly and decadent feel – which is built on perfectly by the plot and deliberately campy dialogue.

The main character Elaine (Samantha Robinson) craves love, so much so that she will kill for it. Whether this is intentional or not is left ambiguous – is Elaine a well-meaning if clumsy witch who hasn’t quite gained control over her powers? Or is she a calculating killer whose appealing personality and mystical aura is a carefully created façade used to lure her victims to her? On the surface the plot seems a bit thin; modern day witch uses magic to get men to love her – but what makes it stand out is the feminist ideology that is seamlessly woven into the story. Elaine questions the role of female sexuality in modern society and the politics involved in male and female desire throughout the film and at times almost self-interrogates over why she is so obsessed with being loved by men and how she ended up feeling like she does.

At select points in the film, a character will use a mobile phone or drive off in a modern car, which juxtaposes every other aspect of the film really well – and gives The Love Witch a unique aesthetic of retro combined with modernity. The deliberate use of slightly clunky acting and over the top dialogue really drives home how at its core The Love Witch is an ode to the decadence of 1970s Hollywood.

With a running time of two hours it could have been a bit shorter if I was being nit-picky but it is such a visual feast that it could have been six hours and I wouldn’t have minded in the slightest.

by Megan Gibb

 

Megan is a 20 year old drop out from Cambridge. She is starting her second attempt at university this year and is hoping to avoid disaster this time around. Most of her time is spent either reading or binge-playing video games. Don’t talk to her about End of Watch or Night Flight as she still hasn’t emotionally recovered from them, and probably never will. Her favourite films are Drive, The Handmaiden, Ghost World and Mad Max: Fury Road.

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