The Love Witch

      Comments Off on The Love Witch

Superficially, Anna Biller’s The Love Witch (2016) may seem like nothing more than a pastiche; some cross between Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958) and Terence Fisher’s The Devil Rides Out (1968) with a feminist twist. But Biller does better than that. If she had only ever made The Love Witch I would still maintain that she is one of the most exciting filmmakers in America today.

Elaine (Samantha Robinson) is the love witch; she is the perfect hybrid of Elizabeth Taylor and Soledad Miranda. She will use her magic abilities to obtain a suitable gentleman at whatever the cost. However, more than anything else, The Love Witch is about a woman’s struggle to maintain an identity that was pressured upon her; first by her father then by her husband. Though Elaine, with her witch’s powers, can subvert this male dominated society she cannot completely remove those shackles.

Anna Biller spent a painstaking two years developing The Love Witch, including designing most of the props, costumes, and sets herself. Every physical aspect of the film recalls some popular trope of the classic Hollywood melodrama. The film is even photographed in 35mm to take this “plastic” authenticity one step further.

This attention to the physical world of the film is intended to do more than merely pay homage to an era of filmmaking. For Biller, it is about a kind of glamor that was perpetuated by a patriarchal society at the height of its power.In this way the physical aspects of the film mirror the political component, the social complex that spurs Elaine on her quest for a mate.

The Love Witch is very often hysterical, but, even in its campiest moments, the film remains very earnest. It’s more a tragedy than a comedy.