Looking for adventure, mystery, fulfillment, and of course… love? Anna Biller
’s tantalizing ode to the 60s - The Love Witch
- is exactly what you’re looking for. The movie extravaganza follows a modern-day witch named Elaine Park (Samantha Robinson
), who comes to a new town looking for love after a devastating heartbreak. Now reborn as a witch, she uses her powers to attract and manifest what she wants … though it sometimes comes at an unpleasant cost. Though feeling exactly like a B-movie of the era it mimics, the indie film unabashedly goes much deeper into the tropes carried by a 'witch' in film and her endless struggle for power in a paradoxical, patriarchal society. Biller, who expertly crafts this movie by single-handedly heading almost every department, tries to explore a new angle of her female protagonist by creating one so creatively complex - instead of the now flawless 'girl boss' who always saves the day. At the same time, she nurtures Elaine’s story and the audience can go from idolizing her to pitying her delusional attitude toward love and then feeling torn on the mayhem she causes since her struggle is so universal. Both beautifully shot and strikingly written, The Love Witch
is old and new combined in an enchanting story you’re sure to be enamored with.
As evident from Biller’s quote, she takes a new angle of the femme fatale by getting in the head of a character both villainized and put on a pedestal; a shiny, cursed object so out of reach. Biller humanizes the femme fatale in her structuring the film as a character study. The audience is so far into a character’s, who is normally a combined love interest and antagonist, head by being taken through her memories with flashbacks and her thoughts in voiceovers. It’s easy to identify with her struggle from her all-access pass right from the start. Though she is messy, vain, and quite selfish, it’s so hard not to love her because her struggle is so fundamentally female - trying every which way to conform to society’s expectations of what a man wants so that she can achieve love. Underneath Robinson’s delightfully campy and airy acting, she gives the character both an endearing charisma in her accidental murders and a relatable person who is just trying to be loved. Her story, at the end of the day, becomes sad because she is so powerful yet is so set on capturing the mere, mundane, mortal man. If anything, it reminds us of the power women hold and how repressive heterosexual relationship standards are the thing that can often alienate women from their true potential.
One of the greatest things about films that center on witches (not counting ones that have them as the bad guy) is that they promote solidarity amongst women and the instinctive power they (whether women or witch) possess. By not restricting this witch to just a power-hungry creature or a surprised girl-next-door, Elaine is so secure in her own femininity and embraces womanhood at all angles. It’s not curbed by respectable subtlety - like with Sarah’s quiet personality in The Craft
or the three single working-girls of