April 14, 2024

BLITHE SPIRIT (2020) – Delightfully funny from start to finish

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Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ 1/2

Blithe Spirit is based on a 1941 Noel Coward British comedy play. Since then the highly popular play had been adapted on TV and movies multiple times. I have to admit that I have not seen any of these aforementioned adaptations and hence have nothing to compare this latest adaptation with or have any prior knowledge of the plot. This probably helps in making this first time introduction to Blithe Spirit such an enjoyable experience for me.

The story is set in the late 1930’s and centres around a novelist, Charles Condomine (Dan Stevens) who is struggling with writer’s block , and somehow summons the ghost of his first wife (Leslie Mann) as a result of a seance conducted by a medium with questionable authenticity, Madame Arcati (played by the impeccable Judi Dench). This brings up the ire of his second wife Ruth (Isla Fisher). The constant verbal batter that ensues between these colourful characters are a delight to watch and listen. Everybody in the cast seem to be enjoying themselves playing their roles with glee. The performances and plot are further with the equally flamboyant sets and costumes making Blithe Spirit a visual treat as well. Dan Stevens is dead pan hilarious as he struggles to satisfy his wives, one a ghost and another very much alive and kicking. He proves here that he is as comfortable starring in a good old fashion screwball comedy, as he is playing the parts of the dashing hero in action movies.

I can find nothing to fault in this adaptation and once again find myself at odds with many critics who have panned the film and branding it inferior to earlier adaptations. Since I have not had the pleasure of watching any other versions I will give them the benefit of the doubt, although I do stand by my testament that this version is every bit an entertaining piece of British comedy. I shall try and get hold of earlier works, particular the 1945 version starring the late and great Rex Harrison, to compare. Meanwhile this is should be the version to watch by default for 2021.

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