Last night I ventured out on a solo movie date to see the much-talked about film showing at this year’s NZ International Film Festival, The Love Witch.
While I love films, I’m not someone who goes BANANAS over the NZIFF when it rolls around each year. I know people who manage to get along to a screening almost every day of the festival. While I don’t have the budget to indulge to that extent, I also like my films to be proven good in some way already; whether it’s a fave director or actor, or another installment in a series/universe I’m loving. And festival films are, more often than not, artistic experiments, and often you don’t know what you’re going to get. Perhaps that’s part of the fun of it, but like I said, I’m a bit of a safe movie-goer. That might be because, as a self-employed creative, my time is pretty precious to me, and it really grinds my gears when my time is wasted. Which puts a lot of pressure on movies and tv shows, to be fair! “I stopped building my dream, for THIS?!!”… haha!
Personal-feels disclaimer aside, I was pretty excited about The Love Witch showing at this year’s NZIFF. I’d heard nothing about the movie before festival rolled around, but all my fave online news sources were raving about it, AND it was hella 60’s/70’s B-movie styled, so I was pretty much sold. I had all intentions of seeing it with friends, but never actually got in touch with anyone to say so, and by the time I realised the festival had actually started, the only Love Witch screening not already sold out was the Wednesday afternoon. Whooooops. But hooray for self-employed flexibility!
I didn’t know too much about the film beforehand, only about its style (and the masterful way every little piece of it was created by director Anna Biller), and about the female protagonist’s woeful relationship with love. Friends had gone and seen the film before I had, and while most shared that they loved the style of it, there was a palpable “I liked it…? I think?” response.
When I was in the theatre, surrounded by the silver-haired and fellow flexi-work millennials, there was laughter and enjoyment, but some people also walked out in the middle of it. Too weird for their tastes I guess. But I felt that it was weird in the way it was intended to be; saturated with colour, with extreme close-ups, dead-pan acting and B-grade special effects. It was kitsch and charming, and if that’s not your cup of tea, then you most certainly picked the wrong movie! The sensuality was wonderful, the humour was unexpected, and all-encompassing throwback style was so deep and well thought-out, that if that was what you were seeing the movie for, then you wouldn’t have been disappointed!
So I say, I LIKED IT! Without the question mark. I’m not sure it’d be high on my list of re-watchers, only because some of the scenes felt a bit drawn out for the return you got from them, and now that you know what happens the humorous surprises are less surprising. But I had a good giggle and love, love, LOVED the outfits and make-up of the main character Elaine especially. Goddamn do I want a long-sleeved flared mini-dress now! The way Elaine was written was thoroughly enjoyable too, with the polarising behaviour between her obsession with finding love and her contempt for men who gave it too willingly and openly. It was a humorous and surprising roller-coaster to ride.
I also found a point that was made in the film about true equality between the sexes only being achieved when the differences between the two genders are acknowledged and accepted quite interesting, and something I have wondered about when thinking about the history and future of feminism. The film most definitely sits heavy in the ‘woman is a goddess, and her power lies in her sensuality’ camp (whether seriously, or just for style/context). While I can certainly think of personal occasions where this idea has proven correct, I’m not sure that this is an “all women” concept, and is just one of many ideas to embrace when trying to achieve equality. Because the idea of “women are at their best when they are sexual/sensual” is also potentially very dangerous for women. There are a lot of interesting man v woman ideas explored in this film actually, highlighting how complicated it is to be human.
All in all, The Love Witch was a great watch, well, for me at least! Did you see it? Did you like it?