Blithe Spirit, Woefully Poor Adaptation Of Noel Coward’s Play

Blithe Spirit

Starring Dan Stevens, Leslie Mann, Isla Fisher, Judi Dench

Directed  by  Edward Hall

Rating: * ½

 If only Noel Coward had known that this  would be done to his  effervescent  1941  play, maybe he wouldn’t have written  it at all.  Or put a legal sanction against asinine adaptations.When it comes to inane pointless adaptations, this  one takes the  cake bakery and flour mill.

   Lacking completely in verve and  basic entertainment Blithe Spirit should immediately  be rechristened  Bland Spirit. It impudently  takes Coward’s play about a writer stumbling on to his dead  wife’s spirit and turn it into some  kind  of  emptied-out exercise in intellectual bankruptcy.  What were genuinely hilarious moments  in the  original, for example the writer(Dan Stevens, hysterically  hangdog) confiding  in  his best friend about his  inability to…errrr…rise  to the  occasion,  are transmuted  into awkward passages  creaking under the weight of explanatory footnotes .

The only  saving grace is the British diva Judie Dench.  As  the  séance medium  Ms Dench summons  up a  spirited  performance in a dead film about summoning dead spirits. Ms  Dench is  Madame Arcati, a bit of a  fraud simulating  pseudo-spirits on stage, until she stumbles onto the real thing. It’s a farcical one-note character  and must have been child’s play for  Ms Dench.  Hope she  got paid well for it. Why else would she  be part  of film that  seems to be  painfully clueless  about how to keep  the  Coward-ly embers burning?

Much  of  the  film  has the  writer-hero’s  two wives ,one alive  and other  dead(though  both could be equally dead, for all we care) battling it out in true rivals style.Isla Fisher(alive wife) and  Leslie Mann(dead wife)  pretend  hard to hate each other. But  you know they are  laughing their  heads off over tequila  shots  as soon as the shot is over.

Blithe Spirit is that sort of rare disaster which  everyone involved can see coming.It   fails to  do any justice  to  the  original  source and offers nothing in the way of innovation or entertainment. Good that Noel Coward  is no more. He didn’t  have  to live to see  this. As  for the iconic Judi Dench, please  don’t do this to yourself. Please don’t do  this  to us.

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