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Practical Magic (1998) - Plot Summary Poster

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Summaries

  • Sisters Sally and Gillian Owens have a special bond with each other despite being different in personality and outlook. Having grown up with their spinster Aunts Frances and Jet in the long time Owens family home on an island off the coast of Massachusetts following the death of their father and then their mother, they are the latest in a long line of witches. Rumors of the Owens women being witches have existed for generations in the small close minded town in which they live, despite there being no hard evidence. The Owens women are also under a curse that any man with who they fall in love is doomed. With this experience, extroverted Gilly decides to leave the island to live life to the fullest, in the process falling for Jimmy Angelov, an ethnic Bulgarian who grew up near Transylvannia. More introspective Sally, who has sworn off the use of magic except in its most practical sense, has taken measures not to fall in love because of the curse, but ends up falling for and marrying Michael, a local merchant, the two who end up having two daughters of their own. The curse works its way into both Gilly and Sally's lives in different ways. The outcomes of the curse on their collective lives become more complicated with the arrival into town of Tuscon police detective Gary Hallet, whose arrival is not by accident and involves more than just his stated professional purpose.

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  • Sally and Gillian Owens have always known they were different. 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 threatens the lives of all the Owens women.

  • Two witch sisters, raised by their eccentric aunts in a small town, face closed-minded prejudice and a curse which threatens to prevent them ever finding lasting love.


Spoilers

The synopsis below may give away important plot points.

Synopsis

  • When Maria, the witch ancestor of our protagonists, realizes that her lover is never going to come for her, she casts a spell on herself to never fall in love again. Unfortunately, the spell goes awry and becomes a family curse: any man that falls for an Owens woman will die. And that's exactly what happens to Sally (Sandra Bullock) and Gillian (Nicole Kidman) Owens' father, causing their mother to die of a broken heart. The young girls then live with their two aunts (Stockard Channing, Diane Wiest), who teach them the ways of being a witch and how to deal with the ridicule that comes with the family profession. But one night when they witness their aunts casting a love spell for a neighbor, Sally decides she will never fall in love and dreams up a man that will never exist...

    Until one day she goes to town with her aunts and she meets the man she falls for. The next thing you know, Sally is happily married to Michael (Mark Feuerstein) with two daughters of her very own. Her sister, in the mean time, has been living in Florida where life is constant parties.

    But when the 'death watch beetle' sounds, Sally know it is only a matter of time before she loses Michael like her mother lost her father...and like all the Owens women have lost the men they love. It is only when the curse plays out that she learns her aunts cast the spell on her to fall for him in the first place. She allows her daughters to live with the aunts who raised her, telling them that her daughters are to never do magic.

    With Michael's tragic death, the sisters reunite and it's Gillian who presses Sally to forgive herself and move on. But tragedy strikes twice when the sisters again reunite, this time when Gilly calls because her boyfriend, Jimmy (Goran Visnjic), begins beating her. It is his accidental death that makes them toy with nature; hoping to bring him back so they won't be arrested. They succeed, but are forced to actually kill him this time when he tries to strangle Gilly.

    Jimmy, however, is haunting them. And the aunts leave when the girls won't confess what happened. Which only becomes a bigger problem when an officer comes looking for Jimmy with a letter Sally had written to Gilly. Why? Because a woman has turned up dead and naked. But this one is special. He happens to be the man that Sally conjured up all those years ago and the girls realize it. Gary, however, isn't there simply because of his case. He fell in love with Sally's letter and now has to reconcile his duty to the badge, and arresting Jimmy's murderer, and duty to the woman he loves, the woman he wished for.

    Jimmy's ghost isn't gone. He's possessing Gilly and the only way to save her is to form a coven and banish him...which Sally does by using all the townspeople who have called her names for years. But only the love of the sisters can send him away...well that and a little magic. When Jimmy's death is declared accidental, Gary returns to Sally for that chance at happiness. And the girls embrace their magic roots. So maybe normal is relative...and a witch can have her happy ending.

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