We mentioned that Andrea reviewed Álex de la Iglesia’s Witching and Bitching in our Assessment episode. As it turns out, the movie came out too long ago for Rue Morgue to run her review in the mag, so here it is for your critical reading pleasure!
WITCHING & BITCHING
Starring Mario Casas, Hugo Silva and Carolina Bang
Written by Jorge Guerricaechevarría and Álex de la Iglesia
Directed by Álex de la Iglesia
Witching & Bitching (original title: Las Brujas De Zugarramurdi) won several Goya awards for its innovative visuals and understandably so; the production values are top-notch and it’s easy to see why Spanish director Álex de la Iglesia (Perdita Durango, The Last Circus) is often compared to Guillermo Del Toro or to the early works of Peter Jackson. Disappointingly, the film situates its dark comedic themes firmly in good old-fashioned misogyny – something I’m not quite ready to laugh at just yet.
José (Hugo Silva) and Tony (Mario Casas) have perfectly acceptable reasons for holding up a pawn shop and stealing a bag of hocked wedding rings. Tony’s girlfriend is a successful lawyer (a fact that makes him feel sexually inadequate), and José’s ex-wife is always harping on him for failing to pay alimony and being a lousy father to their son Sergio (Gabriel Delgado), whom José brought along to the heist. With two inspectors and José’s ex Silvia (Macarena Gómez) hot on their tail, they flee to France in a hijacked taxi driven by Manuel (Jaime Ordóñez), who decides to join their crew. On their way to the border, they drive through the town of Zugarramurdi which is known to be occupied by witches. The group is captured by a coven who determines that young Sergio is “the chosen one” and so they assemble a mass to bring about his rebirth and burn the rest of the men at the stake. Things look grim until the sexy, nubile Eva (director de la Iglesia’s wife, Carolina Bang) turns against her coven – out of sudden, bewildering love for José – and helps the men escape the clutches of the cannibalistic witches.
It’s a bit baffling that a movie about witchcraft (that thing we tortured and burned tens of thousands of innocent women for) can be this overtly sexist without the slightest whiff of satire. Every female in this film is an irritating, nagging caricature of femininity (including Eva, until she abandons her punk haircut and dark lipstick to play mommy to José and Sergio). I get it: it’s a buddy movie. It’s supposed to be a hysterically self-aware celebration of male chauvinism, potty humor and the occasional homophobic gag, and it’s not intended for me and my double-X chromosomes to enjoy.
Toward the end, Eva tells her hag mother that their “mission” is no longer appropriate for today – that “the war” (of the sexes, I’m assuming) is over. If only this were true, Witching & Bitching might be a hilarious parody of outdated sexist stereotypes and notions. Unfortunately, we’ve got a long way to go before this is the case.
Torontonians can catch Witching & Bitching at TIFF on March 21st, but we wouldn’t recommend it.