The Witches of Eastwick | Chicago Reader

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D.H. Lawrence has his Ken Russell, so I guess John Updike is entitled to George Miller, erstwhile Mad Max trilogist, though neither author seems especially well served by the hyperventilations offered in his name. Miller's film of Updike's feminist-backlash novel, about three modern-day “witches” (Cher, Susan Sarandon, Michelle Pfeiffer) who contrive a devilish solution to their sexual discontents (in the form of Jack Nicholson's Daryl Van Horne), casts a few overly literal glances at Updike's curdled metaphors of gender warfare and frustrated male eros, but Miller's real interest lies in delirious displays of cinematic style—and does he ever lay it on thick. Miller's a more sophisticated overachiever than the grossly indulgent Russell, though less committed to the emotionality behind his surfaces: his Witches is a film without a center, without any real narrative or cinematic point, and at times it seems more like a spectacular appendix to Mad Max, with post-Freudian New England filling in for postapocalyptic Australia, than the literary adaptation it pretends to be. It's all very entertaining and very superficial (and Nicholson's stops-out hamming is equal parts of both), more than a carnival of set pieces but something less than a fully realized film. With Veronica Cartwright and Richard Jenkins. 118 min.

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