The Love Witch directed by Anna Biller is certain to become a cult classic. Imagine the Sharon Tate-era Valley Of the Dolls, shaken and mixed with the mid-60’s style of The Avengers, with a dash of late Hitchcock and Hammer House Of Horrors and you’ve got a taste of The Love Witch’s deadly cocktail.
But this film is more than a pastiche. The Love Witch is a serious attempt at a reinvention of 1960’s cinema, shot and, where possible, projected in 35mm, using authentic cinematography techniques and lighting skills from the era. It’s this approach to production that helps give the movie its iconic, colourful and enduring status.
The other iconic presence is Elaine, The Love Witch herself, played by relative newcomer Samantha Robinson. The modern-day 60’s costumes and styling help show Robinson as a strong female character the equal of Emma Peel from The Avengers, if you allow for this film’s playful approach to feminism and the role of the femme fatale.
Samantha Robinson has the charms and the acting strength to carry the movie and this must be the start of a long and successful career for this her, as she rises head and shoulders above the sometimes overly pink whimsy of the plot. This could have been a better movie without the hippy witchcraft and TV serial acting on display, but then perhaps it wouldn’t have reached its already near cult status. The whimsy proves the perfect background for the witch’s charms.
The film works best when the sensuous and alluring Robinson is on-screen and she proves stronger than any of the fragile and flaccid male characters who fall for her allure. The Love Witch’s powers are much too potent for them, and the film itself is a deadly yet delicious potion.