Bell, Book and Candle

A woman reveals a secret truth about herself to a man she loves. He becomes angry and seeks outside help to reject her. He becomes very nearly violent and thrusts a stereotypical symbol in her face, reducing her to what people say about her. This same woman warned others like her not to reveal their secret because it was dangerous; she fought to keep her secret, to keep from being outed, and to keep misinformation from being spread as well. She laments the isolation her truth brings her. Her cat is named Pyewacket, named for one of the familiars identified by the Witchfinder General; she embraces the lies they spread about her and reclaims them. When she reveals herself, she loses her power and becomes vulnerable (when we come out, we become targets). Her brother Nicky is coded queer, but Gillian, though she could easily be seen as queer-coded herself, resonates to the narrate of trans women. (Witches always have and always will be special to me. All witches are trans.) A blend of dullness and bright color seems to allow every scene to draw your attention somewhere; exotification of non-white relics drags the film down. Yet the gullibility of exploiters is preyed upon and the atmosphere of repression is quietly explored. And the scenes between Novak and Stewart do have potent chemistry; when they both struggle with the idea of loving each other, I ached.

Kathleen's VHS Collection 2017: 8/100

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