The Witches Of Eastwick * * * *

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Director: George Miller.
Screenplay: Michael Cristofer.
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Cher, Susan Sarandon, Michelle Pfeiffer, Veronica Cartwright, Richard Jenkins, Keith Jochim, Carel Struycken.

Playing the Devil must be highly appealing to an actor. It gives them the chance to let their darker side out and three of the most prestigious have done just that; Al Pacino gave it gusto in “Devil’s Advocate”, Robert DeNiro had a creepy stab at it in “Angel Heart” and this was Jack Nicholson’s fun filled and menacing turn.

Alex (Cher), Jane (Susan Sarandon) and Sukie (Michelle Pfeiffer) are three dissatisfied single women from the picturesque village of Eastwick, who laughingly try to conjure a man to fulfil all their desires. Soon enough, Daryl Van Horne (Jack Nicholson) movies into the town, but he will have a strange effect on each of them, granting them strange powers and as the lives of everyone in the whole town start to unravel, it becomes increasingly clear what Daryl’s real identity might be.

“Just your average horny little devil” is one of the first self imposed descriptions we get of Daryl Van Horne as Jack Nicholson revels in playing such a vibrant and perfectly suited character. That’s not to say that the rest of the cast aren’t impressive. They are. The three female leads are all perfect, particularly Sarandon with her transformation from shrinking violet to no-nonsense slut. Richard Jenkins, as usual, is able support as the quietly spoken local journalist and a special mention must go to Veronica Cartwright for her hilarious yet frightening turn as his possessed, churchgoing wife who sees Van Horne for what he is. Despite such a solid cast though, this is still the Jack Nicholson show. With every scene, he just chews up the screen and when his darker side is revealed, his performance only gets better, helping to forgive the fact that the shift in tone of the film is slightly uneven. It ranges from fantasy, through comedy, to horror. It’s a transition that won’t appeal to all and the special effects suffer slightly also. However, there’s that much fun to be had with this film that it’s hard to pick holes.

Movies are to be enjoyed and this is a film that has fun and excitement in abundance, helped by a great supporting cast and a dynamic performance by Nicholson, in a role that ranks as one of my favourites from him.

Mark Walker

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