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Practical magicposter

Practical Magic is a 1998 American romantic comedy film based on the 1995 novel of the same name by Alice Hoffman. The film was directed by Griffin Dunne and stars Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman, Stockard Channing, Dianne Wiest, Aidan Quinn and Goran Višnjić. The film score was composed by Alan Silvestri.

Bullock and Kidman play sisters Sally and Gillian Owens, who have always known they were different from each other. Raised by their aunts after their parents' death, the sisters grew up in a household that was anything but typical--their aunts fed them chocolate cake for breakfast and taught them the uses of practical magic. But the invocation of the Owens' sorcery also carries a price--some call it a curse: the men they fall in love with are doomed to an untimely death. Now adult women with very different personalities, the quiet Sally and the fiery Gillian must use all of their powers to fight the family curse and a swarm of supernatural forces that could take away all the Owen's lives.


Maria Owens, a young and beautiful witch, is exiled to a small island, called Maria's Island in Massachusetts with her unborn child as punishment for escaping her execution. She casts a spell upon herself to never fall in love due to heartbreak, only to die soon after. The spell becomes a curse for hundreds of years. Gillian and Sally Owens, two descendants of the Owens family (who continue to keep their maiden names, or take the last name of their mothers, in order to continue the Owens legacy), are taken in by their aunts Frances and Jet after the death of their parents. Sally appears to be the more magically gifted of the two while Gillian's talents are more about charm and persuasion. Both were subjected to ridicule during their youth, but this only made their bond stronger. After witnessing their aunts cast a spell on a man for a woman who seems obsessed with having his love, Gillian decides to fall in love and Sally casts a true love spell to protect herself from ever being hurt because of love, by describing her true love as a mass of features and contradictions she feels could never happen.

The sisters take an oath to each other using blood from both of their hands just before 18 year-old Gillian runs away with a boy to California. Sally meets and marries Michael, an apple salesman. They have two daughters, Kylie and Antonia, and within several years open a botanical shop which sells their homemade soaps, shampoos, etc. After Michael is killed by a truck, Sally and her daughters return to the Owens home to live with the aunts, two free spirits who have never recognized, much less followed any rules except those imposed by their Craft. When Sally realizes that the aunts cast a spell so she could fall in love with Michael, she swears off magic because she believes the curse has ruined her life, and she vows that her daughters will not learn to practice magic. Devastated by her husband's death, Sally falls into a depression, and Gillian senses that her sister needs her, and makes a quick visit home. But when she returns to the southwest and the man with whom she's become involved, Jimmy Angelov, he becomes controlling and abusive, striking her in the face. Trying to escape him, Gillian drugs Jimmy so that she can return unimpeded to Massachusetts. This maneuver fails, so she phones her sister for help. Sally jumps on the next plane to rescue Gillian, but Jimmy becomes violent, and using his gun to threaten them, forces Sally to drive his car while he remains in the backseat with Gillian, drinking from a bottle of tequila.

Jimmy, drunk and rambling nonsense, is still alert enough to use his gun to menace the sisters if they don't do exactly what he wants. He insists that they join him in drinking his tequila. Sally, who's driving, manages to dose Jimmy's tequila with the belladonna Gillian had passed to her, to make him sleep, but inadvertently fatally overdoses him. Once they're back home in Massachusetts, the sisters manage to resurrect him using the forbidden spell from their aunts' book of spells, but Jimmy attempts to kill Gillian immediately upon being revived, so Sally kills him again and the sisters bury his body in the back garden of the Owens home. The aunts return home from a weekend away and instantly sense that their nieces have performed illicit magic. After ensuring the safety of the children with pieces of the rope that had been the noose intended to hang their ancestor Maria but broke instead, they leave, telling the children to pass on a message to their mother and aunt: "Clean up your own mess".

Arizona State investigator Gary Hallett arrives from Tucson, Arizona in search of Jimmy, who it turns out has killed before. As Gary begins to suspect Sally, who reacts very strangely to the man, even telling Gillian she didn't think she was capable of lying to him. He begins investigating her by interviewing her neighbors, who are the grown-up girls who treated the young Owens sisters so contemptuously many years ago, and still intentionally exclude her from school activities. Even Sally's employees describe her as a witch, although they attempt, however unsuccessfully, to explain that she only uses white magic, and would never harm anyone. When he confronts Sally with these allegations of witchcraft, Sally at first doesn't admit anything. Instead, she explains about the power of symbols, using his shield as an example. She tells him that the star-shaped piece of metal has no power in itself; the power comes from his belief that it means something, and that his belief is what gives it its power; a lesson he will soon witness and surely never forget.

Meanwhile, Gillian works with her nieces Kylie and Antonia to create a potion to send Gary away; however, as their aunt tells them about the spell their mom cast when she was a girl afraid of being hurt by love, the girls recognize that Gary is the impossible man described in Sally's true love spell, and as the family and Gary sit at the patio table for a pancakes breakfast, the girls grab the pitcher holding the pancake syrup into which Gillian had mixed the potion and throw it off the cliff into the ocean below. Later, Sally visits Gary's motel room, and has him record her testimony. She sees a letter she had once written Gillian, and becomes enraged that he had invaded her privacy in such a way. But after he explains to her the effect the letter had on him; how he feels he knows her from reading it again and again, they are unable to deny their feelings for each other. They kiss and Sally realizes that he was there because of the spell she cast years earlier.

When Sally returns home, she discovers that Jimmy's spirit has possessed Gillian's body and Gary witnesses Jimmy's spirit emerge. Jimmy attempts to grab Gary's heart, but his star-shaped badge saves him and temporarily exiles the spirit. Later, Sally tells Gary that he is there because of her spell and the feelings they have for each other are not real, but the result of a spell she cast on herself many years before. Gary replies that curses are only true if one believes in them, which he doesn't, and reveals that he also wished for her, before he returns to Arizona.

Jimmy possesses Gillian again and attempts to kill Sally. When Frances and Jet return, they realize what has happened, after a night of drinking margueritas inadvertently made with the tequila from Jimmy's bottle. Finally accepting she must embrace her gift of magic to save her sister, Sally asks the aid of the townswomen who have excluded her all these years. The townswomen respond to the basic story of an ex Gillian simply couldn't get rid of, and following the basic instructions of the aunts form a coven to exorcise Jimmy's spirit, but Sally makes them stop when she sees that the effort might kill Gillian. Carefully remaining outside the circle, Sally repeats the blood oath they swore when Gillian first left: they clasp their hands to mix each other's blood once more, exorcising Jimmy's spirit and allowing the coven to banish him completely, while also breaking Maria's curse on the Owens women. Soon after Sally receives a letter from Gary telling her that she and her sister are cleared of any suspicion of wrongdoing in Jimmy's case and Gary returns to Massachusetts to be with Sally. The Owens women celebrate All Hallow's Eve (a/k/a Samhain, one of the sacred 8 Sabbats) dressed up in witch costumes that have been used to mock witches over the years, complete from the pointy black hats to the striped socks (a la the "Wicked Witch" in the "Wizard of Oz" who was killed when Dorothy's house landed on her). They even jump off the roof as they'd long been accused of doing, using black umbrellas to control their descent. But now they are embraced and welcomed by the townsfolk, and Gary scoops up Sally's daughters, just like the father he's planning to become.