After a bad breakup, lovelorn witch Elaine makes a new start in a new city, and soon goes on the hunt for a new man. Using her powers to ensnare men who catch her eye, her magic becomes a little too effective and the intensity of the men’s emotions becomes too much for them, their obsession with her soon having tragic consequences.
The first thing you notice about The Love Witch, aside from how breathtakingly gorgeous its protagonist is, is how breathtakingly gorgeous the film itself is. The lurid colour scheme evokes the look of the sex-laden exploitation movies of the ‘60s and ‘70s, matched perfectly by the garish set design. Numerous filmmaking and photography techniques aid in crafting the illusion, so much so that were you not aware the film is a recent creation, the chromatic saturation may fool you into believing it’s a restoration of a film decades old.
Appropriately for a film crammed with vivid sexytimes, Samantha Robinson as Elaine is truly stunning. She exudes the sensual glamour of the likes of Caroline Munro or Ingrid Pitt, her flawless beauty hypnotically beguiling and almost intimidating in its unassuming vibrancy. Despite her regular nakedness, her naughty bits are usually covered by the cascading hair of a Lady Godiva wig, meaning that even when nude she is still teasingly covered up.
Aside from its magnificent recreation of period genre movies, the film also strives to offer a more overtly feminist take on the era’s attitude towards women. Elaine spends her time searching for the right man to be with not because she feels that’s what’s expected of her, but simply because she wants to. The film repeats some laughably dated expressions of gender roles, but the very fact that they need to be stated in the first place is precisely the problem, and by extension highlights how much of that inequality still exists, as much as some of us like to delude one another that it doesn’t. Elaine uses men for her romantic and sexual desires in the same way that they would use women, except without the social requirement for them to feel ashamed of themselves afterwards. In her quest to equalise the emotional disregard she finds so abhorrent in men she pushes herself ever closer to becoming little better than the thoughtless men she so despises.
The portrayal of the magic in the film is less abstract than its representation in those that inspired it, and actually appears to come from a place of research. The other witches she encounters offer explanations of the Wiccan principals of white magic, while her statement of magic being an extension of will is right out of Aleister Crowley’s principals of Thelema, specifically “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law,” that a person’s actions should exist in harmony with their sense of purpose.
Much more than just a meticulously constructed throwback, The Love Witch is gorgeous, sexy and mesmerising in every way, and shows that just because a film takes shameless trash as its inspiration, it doesn’t mean that the end result needs to be the same.
THE LOVE WITCH / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: ANNA BILLER / STARRING: SAMANTHA ROBINSON, GIAN KEYS, LAURA WADDELL, JEFFREY VINCENT PARISE / RELEASE DATE: TBC
Expecting Rating: 8 out of 10