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Well-told tale of an age-old struggle
on January 7, 2015
From the director who brought us Mad Max comes a modern-day fairy tale of sorts that examines the age-old battle of the sexes. Alex (Cher), Jane (Susan Sarandon) and Sukie (Michelle Pfeiffer) are three single women who live in the sleepy New England town of Eastwick. Since all of them lack a man in their lives, and are dissatisfied with the ones who are in town, they wish for a handsome stranger to visit. Miraculously, their wish is granted when Daryl Van Horne (Jack Nicholson) strolls into town and succeeds in turning their lives (and the town's) upside down. For the most part, I thought that the story was very effective in setting up its characters and giving them depth, even Daryl. The three women who are the titular "Witches of Eastwick" were all distinct personalities and had situations that made you care about them. Generally speaking, the performances were all very good, although Jack Nicholson towers above the rest of the cast as he brings his brand of insanity to what is essentially the devil in human form. Even the whole "witch" thing was dealt with rather subtly, as the women only become witches by finding the power within themselves. It is this struggle between male and female power which forms the core conflict of the film, and it is a compelling one even though it has been many times over in various forms. The townspeople are also given some development, although probably not enough to warrant the attention provided them. There are references made to the Salem witch trials, and the wife of the town's newspaper editor (Richard Jenkins...with hair!) acts as the mouthpiece for morality when the the three "witches" start their relationship with Daryl. Despite this interesting aside, I think it detracts a little bit from the main conflict. Moving on, I also thought that John Williams' score was fantastic and had this magical/mysterious quality that really meshed with the story and visuals. It's not his best score, but it was still a very good one. There were also a number of special effects by ILM which I thought were also well-done, especially considering this was made in 1987. Overall, I thought this was a very entertaining and funny movie that presented a well-worn theme in a fresh way. The only detraction, I think, is that there's a bit of a mean streak in regards to the portrayal of the male characters which might turn that half of the audience off. Still, this is a quality film that shows off director George Miller's versatility and the acting talents of its cast.