“What you call love is a borderline personality disorder.”
In The Love Witch, Elaine (Samantha Robinson) is a witch looking for someone to love her as she believes she should be loved. She relies on spells and potions—which may be somewhat deadly. She has just moved to town, after the death of her ex-husband under suspicious circumstances. There is a growing string of lovers’ bodies in her wake. And now she believes a local detective is the man fated for her.
The film should be viewed as a spoof and homage to 1960s sexploitation fare. When Elaine first tells us of her understanding of how to win a man’s love, she sounds like something out of The Stepford Wives or the Playboy Philosophy. But underneath what sounds so anti-feminist is a belief in the strength of women and her ability to summon her will to find the love she desires.
This is not Harry Potter witchcraft. It is more akin to Wiccan practices. (I’m not qualified to judge if this is a fair portrayal of Wicca [or more likely Wicca-ish] practice. I suspect it’s about as accurate as most films portrayal of Christianity—i.e., a bit off base.) There is goddess worship, attention to nature, and some discussion of white and black magic. The practitioners here tend toward the “white” side of the spectrum. Although Elaine speaks about doing white magic that focuses her will toward a goal and brings the power of nature into her quest for love, her actions don’t quite jibe with the spirit of what she proclaims.
Of course the flaw in Elaine’s plan to find someone to love her as she wants to be loved is that she is working from a self-centered position. What she offers to the men in her life is not so much love as satisfaction of their fantasies and desires. It’s not clear what she wants in return, but it always seems to be missing from those who fall under her spell. Perhaps it is because she has no idea what love is. For her love itself is a fantasy. Reality will never live up to that. Because she doesn’t understand that the key to love is to love just as much as to be loved, she is doomed to find disappointment, tragedy, and grief.
Photos courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories