Witching & Bitching (2013)

Directed by
A wild genre-bending rollercoaster ride
Reviewed by Simon on 2021-08-07

A group of men stage a robbery that ends in a shootout with police and a hijacked taxi for a getaway car. The men, their driver and the young son of one of the robbers make a beeline for the French border, but stop to get food in a small town before they cross over. The reluctant taxi driver warns them that the town is said to be cursed and home to witches.

WITCHING & BITCHING's opening scene is classic Alex de la Iglesia, the outlandish characters and a situation that is thrilling, bizarre and hilarious in equal measures. On their taxi ride the men bond over gripes about the hold the women in their lives have over them, pleased that their stolen gold will allow them to get out from under their thumbs. It's not long before they get to learn what it really means to be under a woman's thumb.

The opening credits establish the film's theme. Medieval drawings of witches gradually become more modern in style until they become photographs of powerful women, culminating with Angela Merkel and Margaret Thatcher. Thus we understand that witches are a symbol of patriarchy's fear of strong, independent women. If witches really had the kind of powers they were accused of, patriarchy probably wouldn't have lasted long.

The film starts with such a bang that it would seem like the only way to go is down, but never let it be said that Alex de la Iglesia doesn't know how to escalate. It slows down for a while of necessity, but by the end of the film you'll have almost forgotten that 100 minutes earlier an Uzi-toting Spongebob Squarepants seemed pretty wild.

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WITCHING & BITCHING is the kind of genre-bending rollercoaster ride that Alex De-la Iglesia does better than just about anybody else, outlandish, imaginative and endlessly entertaining. The budget seems to have been relatively high, though obviously not on Hollywood scales, which means the execution of the grand finale is slightly compromised, though not for lack of ambition.

As with most of Alex De-la Iglesia's films the main characters are not meant to be admirable or even necessarily likeable, but he somehow manages to engender sympathy for them despite this. It's a pleasure to see Carmen Maura having fun as the coven leader, but Carolina Bang leaves the strongest impression as her seductive daughter.

Somehow everything manages to culminate in an ending that is rather heart warming, and ought to leave you with a smile on your face.