Fantasia 2016 Review: ‘The Love Witch’

Posted in Fantasia 2016, Festival Coverage, Movies by - July 26, 2016
Fantasia 2016 Review: ‘The Love Witch’

Female manipulation, male narcissism, and a hypnotic look – from the clothes to the photography to the close-ups – combine wonderfully in the The Love Witch. It’s a film made and set in the modern day, but little would have you believe that it is: shot as if from the 1960s on 35mm, having just unearthed technicolour projection, this dreamy, sexy, witty love song is as mesmerizing as its title character.

Her name is Elaine (Samantha Robinson), and she’s driving down the California coast with the top down, explaining the trouble she’s been having with men. It seems in all her earnest efforts to give them their desires, whether or not they’re spoken aloud, men fail to handle all that they boast.

There is a wonderfully dry series of conversations in The Love Witch, which follows Elaine and her exploits with magic and men, that declare in no uncertain terms that women should feel bad for men because of all their obvious mental and emotional flaws.  It’s wry feminism and loads of satire that puts men in a curious position: they are loved, but the need lots of help. There is female empowerment, but also male fantasy fulfillment: nudity, stripteases, and other eroticies exist in this world of the mysterious.

It is made, indeed, with love, as Anna Biller works as director, writer, producer, costumer designer, editor, and surely tasked with many more jobs. The Love Witch keeps its steam for the most part, even at its two hour mark, in part because of its refreshingly nostalgic visual landscape. Our sultry heroine gets can’t find luck, gets in trouble, and tries as she might to find love, even while men falter around her. The Love Witch hammers home its theme; the substance is little but potent; the style, meanwhile, what style!


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Anthony is a lover of a good story in any form, on any subject. Tirelessly navigating filmdom, he is equal parts an unbridled idealist and stubborn curmudgeon, trying to strike a balance between head and heart when it comes to pop culture. He pens stories about television, music, the environment, lifestyles, and all things noteworthy and peculiar.