The Love Witch (2016)

The Love Witch (2016) movie poster

director Anna Biller
viewed: 12/24/2017

A lot of people loved The Love Witch.

Anna Biller’s critique of wiles of femininity is gorgeous for sure, as is star Samantha Robinson. Steeped in style lifted from the late 1960’s / early 1970’s Euro art horror films, every shot is meticulously constructed, every idea intensely intentional.

And funny. A very off-beat funny, setting an awkward tone throughout. Again, intensely intentional.

Robinson is the “love witch” of the title, a super-gorgeous gal who has come to town (Arcata, CA for the win) in search of love. If her looks weren’t enchanting enough, she’s got potions, spells, and other tricks to capture hapless men in her dealings. But she also has a deep well of need that she herself does not understand, and all her natural and unnatural powers can’t give her what she wants.

Biller’s comedy is quite arch in its way, which usually leads to characters who represent particular ideas or concepts. But Biller’s attitude towards the metaphorical magic of female allure is double-edged. The witch as metaphor for feminine power and/or the fear of it is for Biller both true and empowering as well as cliché and a trap of over-simplification.

The film is two hours long and would probably be more effective if trimmed by a quarter. For all the beauty of the thing, and the humor and also the depth of concept throughout, The Love Witch did not entrance me as it did others. I liked it and am certainly curious of Biller’s other work.

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