A friend of mine has been praising The Love Witch since the trailer was first released. She sent it (the trailer) to me several months ago, and I thought it seemed promising, though it’s not of my usual element. Directed by indie American filmmaker, Anna Biller, the occult themes and retro 60s-inspired imagery undeniably reeled in my attention, however, and I finally decided to sit down and view it this morning.
My writing is usually finicky and sporadic, but upon indulging in this film, I felt I should try my hand at a movie analysis. For me, what I found fascinating wasn’t necessarily the witchcraft or the plethora of nudity or the obviously stunning main character, Elaine Parks (Samantha Robinson), but all of the underlying messages going on throughout the movie. Now, I could be way off about a lot of this, but films are a form of art, and art is up for interpretation.
[Warning: Thar be spoilers beyond this point, matey. Dun say I didn’t warn ye.]
The Love Witch, to me, is a story of mental illness. It’s made clear during one particular scene that both Elaine’s ex-husband and her father were verbally and emotionally abusive towards her and her physical appearance. Her coven is also partially to blame for her frame of mind as well, assuring her that a woman’s body is a tool for acquiring love from a man. Both of these factors undoubtedly caused her to begin objectifying herself, thinking that an attractive woman who’s willing to have sex immediately with another man is the way to get him to fall in love with her. While that’s something that does happen in certain cases, her eagerness to supplement the love she wasn’t given by the two major male figures in her life ends up being her downfall, as well as the downfall of the men she falls for.
Ms. Parks isn’t one to be shaken from her fantasies. In one of the initial scenes, she’s not afraid to admit to her fondness for fairy tales or her hopes for them to become real someday. She uses love magic as a means of trying to get these fantasies to come true, which seems to end in the death of her lover in one way or another. One crucial scene towards the end almost literally portrays Griff as her “Prince Charming”, complete with a fake medieval wedding after riding on horseback. And to no surprise, the leaders of her coven are there, as if to continue feeding these fantasies of hers. The internal monologues at the end of this scene, however, tear the entire thing in half and hint at the travesty that’s bound to unfold.
As a guy, I thought it would be interesting to note my personal reaction here to Elaine from beginning to end. I don’t think I’m alone in saying that she could cast a spell on me any day (although maybe not, considering the fates that befall her lovers), but I also felt a gnawing sense of unease about her too. I think this unease is also felt by the men she seduces, but as soon as the clothes come off, all of that gets defenestrated post-haste. However, as the movie goes on, her ability to create this indifference (at least for me) faded, and the physical attraction was replaced by discomfort. The final scene where she blankly stabs Griff to death after he fails to accept her advance made me realize the tables had turned completely. In short, I think I’ll take a pass on that spell after all.
Love is not something that happens automatically, and I think that’s one of the main messages that makes this movie stand out to me. So many people, especially nowadays, confuse lust for love, and The Love Witch does a stellar job of illustrating this. More importantly, this film gave me a lot to think about concerning my own views on love, and if there’s one thing I love more than spells or a gorgeous witch that reminds me somewhat of Carolyn Jones’s Morticia, it’s a movie that makes me think.
Overall Rating: 8/10