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Elaine, a beautiful young witch, is determined to find a man to love her. In her gothic Victorian apartment she makes spells and potions, and then picks up men and seduces them. However, her spells work too well and she ends up with a string of hapless victims. When she finally meets the man of her dreams, her desperation to be loved will drive her to the brink of insanity and murder.
After being accused of killing her own husband who died in suspicious circumstances, Elaine, a beautiful young witch, moves to a small village in California and begins a new life. She is determined to find the man of her life but her spells work too well. All the men she tries to seduce end up either dying from a heart attack or committing suicide. Meanwhile, the detective Griff starts the investigation into mysterious missing-person cases. Would Griff be the man of her dreams after all?
Anna BILLER’s feature directorial debut, Viva is a faithful homage to sexploitation films from the 1970s. She incorporates the elements of sexploitation films into Viva so deliberately that it does not seem like a parody at all. With her second feature film The Love Witch made about ten years after Viva came out, BILLER ambitiously goes beyond imitating the conventions of the exploitation genre.
The look of BILLER’s latest film is similar to that of Viva. The Love Witch was shot in widescreen 35mm, not to mention that it recreates the optimistic glitz and glamour of cinema and fashion of the 1960s-70s and deliberately uses the acting styles and conventions of the exploitation genre. However, despite its 1960s look, this film is set in a contemporary world with highly modern props such as cellphone frequently appearing on screen. The film turns into a multifaceted text as its retro styles clash with its contemporary setting. It is fascinating to see how BILLER approaches this old-fashioned genre that was originally to cater to the male audience’s voyeuristic desire. She takes the issue about women’s sex and gender roles to a whole new level while explicitly using the codes and conventions of the exploitation genre from a feminist perspective. (Djuna)
Anna BILLERAnna BILLER