Darke Reviews – Practical Magic (1998)


Yesterday I mentioned how the fall of 98 was one of my most favorite ever. It was the perfect fall in Florida for me, where it cooled off quickly by late October. Every night on my way home from the late shift at work I was driving through moonlit bogs with low mist rolling across them and the moon reflecting in the water. Type-O Negative or Alucarda blaring through my car speakers. The trees were bare where I was in Fernandina Beach and had I not been in Florida and rather some north eastern small town it would have been a picture perfect October. Nearly every night for a week I was at the local four screen movie theatre watching this movie which struck nearly every chord in me. It had romance, the supernatural, great acting, a good story, and a fantastic soundtrack.

Practical Magic, was helmed by Actor/Director Griffin Dunne (American Werewolf in London) which is an adaptation of the novel by Alice Hoffman. Per the usual, I have not read the book but have also been advised against it. In an unusual twist a movie with three writing credits is done well. We have Adam Brooks, Robin Swicord and Akiva Goldsman on the screenplay credits. Swicord was also responsible for the eminately watchable Memoirs of a Geisha and the acclaimed Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Goldsman is more of a producer (Fringe) these days and has been hit and miss in the writing department (Batman & Robin and Batman Forever, now you know who to send hate mail to). Surprisingly the three individuals pulled together a cohesive story that reads and plays out well with very few holes that I can poke in its execution.

Some of that may come down to an amazing cast who are some of the best in their craft (pun intended). Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Stockard Channing, and Dianne Wiest are the absolute stars; with Aidan Quinn and Goran Visnjic filling in for the romantic interests. All of the players in this do a remarkable job of selling all the emotions needed to draw you in.

The story moved around two sisters Sally (Bullock) and Gillian (Kidman) who are born to a long line of witches. Sally after a bad run in with magic wants nothing more than to be normal and to raise her daughters to be normal in a life without magic. Gillian on the other hand loves her life and lives it with a wild abandon that leads her into the life of Jimmy Angelov (Visnjic) who had this been a different film could have also been a vampire. Normalcy and Wildness clash when Gillian gets into trouble and Sally comes to the rescue. The two sisters are guided by the aunts that raised them Jet (Weist) and Frances (Channing) as they face the consequences of their actions, their sisterhood and their family’s past.

There are a handful of effects in the film and they are executed well enough but what really stands out as an aid to the story telling is an amazing soundtrack. Stevie Nicks contributes several songs that you can’t help but be drawn into the movie because of. There is something intangible about this film that does just that, draws you into their fantastic world and for me personally I would have loved to be part of that family or live on their island.

TL;DR

If you want a little magic in your life or romance, if you want to believe in the power of love or have a sister or someone that you would move heaven and earth for, this may be a movie for you.

Obviously this one isn’t horrorific so if thats what you want, give it a pass. This is a romantic movie with a supernatural bent that other movies in this genre could take a page from. Including many of the YA stories.

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Tomorrows movie is a double feature review that wants to give you a hickey before it turns into a Vampire.

 

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