|PRACTICAL MAGIC (1998)|
Evan Rachel Wood
|"This is what comes from dabbling; I mean you can't practice witchcraft while you look down your nose at it."|
|Time: 103 mins.|
Official Web Site
I went into this film knowing it was going to be fluff, knowing it was going to be completely unrealistic. It is a film about witches after all. Yet underneath the spells and spookiness is a sweet core that makes you believe in fate and true love. The emotional strength of the story is due to the down-to-earth performance of Sandra Bullock. She's the piece that keeps this film from going right off the deepend into absurdity. Her genuineness is something that just can't be denied. She plays Sally, a woman born into a family of cursed witches. As young girls, she and her sister Gillian (Kidman) are forced to live with their aunts after their parents are killed by the curse. (Their father in a freak accident, their mother of a broken heart.) According to legend, any Owens woman who truly loves a man will ultimately lose him to the curse. Rather than die of a broken heart, Sally conjers up a spell to create her perfect man. One with attributes so unusual no mortal man could ever embody them. As the sisters grow up they become closer, depending only on each other to get through the terrible persecution they face as Owens women.
They are as different as night and day Gillian is the wild child, Sally the "normal" one. Well, that's all she really wants to be. And for a while that's what she gets. With a little help from her aunts, she falls in love with a local man and has two daughters. But Sally becomes too happy and settled into her new life and one day the curse comes calling. Upon the death of her husband, she is forced yet again to move in with her aunts, but this time she wants nothing to do with their magic for her or her daughters. Unfortunatly, she's not given a choice. Trouble comes to the house in the form of Gillian's latest boyfriend Angel (Visnjic), an abusive, bad boy she just can't resist. She calls Sally for help when he becomes more than she can handle, refusing to let her leave his side. In an attempt to escape, they end up killing him by accident. Things go from bad to worse, when their attempt to bring him back from the dead with one of their aunts' spells revives an even more violent creature. They attempt to hide their mistake in the back yard, but Angel is pissed and he's not going to just go away quietly.
More problems enter into their lives in the form of Detective Gary Hallet (Quinn). He wouldn't be such a problem if he wasn't the man Sally was destined to be with. Every time she's in the same room with him, she feels the need to tell him the truth. Quinn and Bullock have an instant rapore that's wonderful to watch. She is endearing and funny as she tries to relate what happened to Angel without bursting out with the truth. They are heartbreaking to watch as a couple who has finally found each other, only to be kept apart by deceit. In the end, Angel is banished to the netherworld where he belongs, the sisters save each other, the town accepts them and true love conquers the dreaded curse. The story is kind of silly and the film takes a while to get where its going, but I have to say I enjoyed the ride. It has some funny moments, but it is by no means a comedy. The special effects are only so-so, but it really doesn't matter. PRACTICAL MAGIC works because of the genuine performances by its leads. Kidman and Bullock are basically playing watered down versions of characters they've played before, but I still wanted to spend time with them. Bullock made me cry...again. There's just something about her playing a woman knocked down by love, yet willing to try again, that gets me everytime.
PRACTICAL MAGIC isn't a great movie, but it is occasionally romantic, witty, creepy and endearing. If you like the leads and are looking for something light and entertaining to help pass the time, you'll like this film. It could have been better, but I didn't really care.