Samantha Robinson in The Love Witch

The Love Witch review: Stylist readers review their favourite films, under the female gaze

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Read the shortlisted Under Her Eye reviews then vote for your favourite.

As part of Stylist’s Under Her Eye initiative, we’re on the hunt for three new female film critics. We asked aspiring reviewers to send in a 450-word review of their favourite film – and after an overwhelming response, we’ve whittled it down to a shortlist of 20. 

Read one woman’s review of The Love Witch below and click here to see the other entries and vote for your favourite.

It’s Friday night, your housemates are out, you’ve got no plans. What’s a gal to do? Easy. Slip on your jammies and fetch your tarot deck: it’s time to watch The Love Witch. Directed by the inimitable Anna Biller, the film seeks to answer a simple question: what would happen if men loved women the way women want to be loved?

Spoiler alert: NOTHING GOOD.

Fresh from the break-up of her marriage, Elaine arrives in town ready to find love. Driving down the coast in her blood-red convertible, flashbacks show the life she’s left behind: a blood-drenched ex-hubby Jerry on the floor not looking too rosy. But Elaine can’t think about that right now, she’s having an erotically-charged moment with a police officer. In fact, when all her interactions with men are so heated, finding love should be easy…

And, to be clear, love is Elaine’s ultimate goal. She’ll do anything to get it. Some of those things leave her pal Trisha incredulous. Surprisingly, it’s not the Mason jars full of urine and rosemary, but Elaine’s willingness to bend to every clichéd male fantasy. And, by gum, does it work!

Poor Wayne falls hook, line and sinker for her pretty eyes and the way she throws her stockings at his face. Post-coitally, poor Wayne weeps pitifully whilst telling Elaine how difficult it is to find a girl who’s both intelligent and attractive. She knowingly strokes his poor head and coos soothing noises. Poor Wayne.

By morning, Wayne will be dead.

Because the men who love her cannot return the love she craves. Why is left up to the viewer, but to focus on this is to miss the point: a sexual woman is terrifying to men, both in film and in audience.

The film is beautiful and critical. It is heavy-handed with colour the same way you want your mum to be heavy-handed with cream over apple crumble. It’s gloriously pulpy and generous in its attention to detail. You would have no idea this was filmed in 2016 if it weren’t for the visual gags such as Trisha’s sleek black smartphone. Which lead, slowly but surely, to the realisation that this film isn’t skewering 60s sexploitation films (as some claim), it’s skewering us and our obsessions.

A confession: I thought I had been making inciteful notes during this film but, reading over them again, I realise I had just scribbled “MALE FEARS” over and over like Jack in The Shining. And if that isn’t a reason to watch this film immediately, I don’t know what is.

Watch if: you too characterise love as a borderline personality disorder.

Don’t watch if: you don’t believe in the power of blue eyeshadow.

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