Blithe Spirit: Film Review

Blithe Spirit

Considering Blithe Spirit has been remade for the stage and screen many times, it’s quite incredible that I had never seen an adaptation or had the faintest idea about the plot going into this latest version.

In this period comedy, set in 1937, Dan Stevens plays Charles Condomine, a writer who is struggling to turn his book into a screenplay. Hoping to gather material for the project, Charles hires eccentric medium and clairvoyant Madame Arcati (Judi Dench) – who has recently been accused of being a hoax – to conduct a seance at his house. Madame Arcati somehow summons his deceased first wife Elvira (Leslie Mann), who haunts him and plans to get him all to herself by picking off those around him, like his new wife Ruth (Isla Fisher), who is unable to see her.

Blithe Spirit began as a stage play by Noel Coward in the 1940s and has been revived on Broadway and the West End many times, most recently with Angela Lansbury as Madame Arcati. Many will argue that there doesn’t need to be a remake of the 1945 David Lean film but I personally don’t see a problem with it being brought to life again, particularly now when we need some light escapist comedy.

And I really do mean light. This version is extremely lightweight, flimsy and unsubstantial so you don’t really care for the characters or the outcome of the story, but it is still an entertaining movie regardless. It made me laugh out loud often and I felt constantly amused by Stevens, in particular. The acting is heightened and deliberately hammed up, like you would expect from a 1930s-set farce, and it is a lot of fun to watch.

I particularly enjoyed watching Stevens venture into physical comedy as Charles, who is believed to be descending into madness by those around him as nobody else can see Elvira. This situation is ripe for many funny moments of him speaking to himself or fighting alone and Stevens seemed to be relishing the role. Mann was well cast as Elvira, who has a captivating presence and a threatening air and also the best hair, make-up and wardrobe of the cast. She looked gorgeous! Fisher is generally stuck in the straight man role between Charles and Elvira, but she has one memorable scene that was great fun. Dench rounds out the cast in a delightfully dotty turn as the medium.

Blithe Spirit may be light as a feather, absolutely silly, thinly written, and rather forgettable but I can’t deny that I found it entertaining!

Available on Sky Cinema from Friday 15th January

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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