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55. Blithe Spirit; movie review

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Title : 55. Blithe Spirit; movie review
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Cert TBA
96 mins
BBFC advice: TBA

Recreating a comedy from the golden era of cinema was always likely to be a risky undertaking.
Unfortunately, this version of Blithe Spirit looks precisely what it is - a bunch of largely well-known trying to make a project work when it is far too long out of its time.
An adaptation of the Noel Coward play needs plummy English actors with the expert comic timing of Margaret Rutherford and Rex Harrison who appeared in the 1945 version.
Even Judi Dench, for all her talents, can't give it the quirkiness it demands.
For the uninitiated, Blithe Spirit stars Dan Stevens as Charles Condomine a screenwriter who has an appalling case of writer's block.
He calls a seance with a discredited spiritualist (Dench) who inadvertently summons the spirit of his deceased wife (Leslie Mann).
This means that the poor writer is henpecked by his dead spouse who only he can see and hear as well as his living one (Isla Fisher).
The deceased Mrs Condomine sets out to win his affections even though she is a ghost.
For me, the problem with Edward Hall's version of Blithe Spirit is that its humour seems so forced.
This type of farce was the natural home of Rutherford and Harrison because it was so typical of 1940s comedies but it is alien to actors of today.
And I can't imagine at whom the movie is aimed. Older viewers which just think it was done better years ago and younger ones will simply be bemused.

Reasons to watch: Old-fashioned movie style
Reasons to avoid: Comedy without laughs

Laughs: None
Jumps: None
Vomit: None
Nudity: None
Overall rating: 4/10

Did you know? The play Blithe Spirit was first seen in the West End in 1941, creating a new long-run record for non-musical British plays of 1,997 performances. It also did well on Broadway later that year, running for 657 performances.

The final word. Dan Stevens: "There's a lovely sort of circularity to it all, in that my first West End theatre job was doing Hay Fever with Judi Dench, directed by Sir Peter Hall. And his son, Ed Hall, has directed this movie, with Judi Dench in it. And getting to explore a madcap comedy on the big screen is always fun." Digital Spy

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