Starring: Samantha Robinson, Gian Keys, Laura Waddell
Director: Anna Biller
Running Time: 120 mins
The Love Witch is an American film about a woman who uses magical spells to make the men around her fall in love with her, only to realise her methods result in disastrous consequences.
Beautifully rendered in the style of a pulp 1960s drama, and complete with a strange and unique story, The Love Witch is certainly an eye-catching affair, but it’s also a fascinating example of the battle between style and substance in film.
I think it’s a little too easy to go out there and call The Love Witch ‘style over substance’, simply because this is one of those film where the style is a big part of its substance. That doesn’t fully excuse the fact that the film isn’t exactly enthralling throughout, but it deserves a lot of credit for a number of its bold choices.
Let’s start with that style, which is by far and away one of the most impressive homages I’ve seen to a previous era of cinema. From the camerawork to costume design and everything in between, this is an entirely convincing ’60s B-movie, and it takes a while to remember that it was released in 2016.
The film looks absolutely gorgeous throughout, and you can tell that director Anna Biller has performed a real labour of love to deliver such a passionate and vibrant homage to a cinematic period of yesteryear.
However, that exquisite attention to detail also has an impact on the film’s narrative depth, which is often a little wanting throughout. The Love Witch isn’t a boring movie on account of its excellent style, but it’s by no means the most enthralling watch, struggling to conjure up much narrative magic despite its main character’s mystical powers.
Admittedly, there’s something pleasingly simplistic and superficial about the story, in that it doesn’t take itself too seriously, thereby playing into the B-movie style. However, at 120 minutes long, The Love Witch can really drag, and as such proves far less of a fresh, eye-catching watch come the end as it is at the start.
As a result, I found The Love Witch to be a bit of a frustrating film by the finish, despite the fact that its gorgeous visual style is executed so perfectly. The film is not exactly a case of ‘style over substance’, but it is a case of the style being far better than the substance. So, that’s why I’m giving The Love Witch a 6.9 overall.