Blithe Spirit 2020 Film Review

This will be a very brief look at the latest movie offering based on Noel Cowards play.

Blithe Spirit was originally a play written by Noel Coward and first performed in London’s West End in 1941. It was adapted for the screen in 1945 for a movie directed by David Lean and staring Rex Harrison along with Constance Cummings, Kay Hammond and Margaret Rutherford.

As with many old movies, it has been revamped and there is now a 2020 version directed by Edward Hall, with Dan Stevens taking the lead – playing writer Charles Condomine who is struggling with writers block and Isla Fisher and Leslie Mann playing his current wife Ruth and first/dead wife Elvira. Judy Dench takes over the Margaret Rutherford role of the medium who conjures up the ghost of his first wife thus causing chaos….which results in a good old fashioned comedy romp.

The review website Rotten Tomatoes gave the movie a miserly 31 out of 100 and commented “An indifferent adaptation of classic source material, Blithe Spirit puts a star-studded cast through the motions without capturing the story’s screwball spark.

Other critics also panned it comparing it poorly with the original 1945 movie. Deborah Ross of The Spectator said “Better if she’d been left to rest in peace, and, after seeing this film adaption, you may well wish the play had been left to rest in peace too. Don’t dig it up! Leave well alone!” And Simran Hans of The Observer (UK) said “Edward Hall’s film attempts to send up Condomine for leeching off a female muse, which clashes somewhat with the source material’s “blithe” mood.

In a way I’m quite pleased that I have seen neither the original play performed, nor the original 1945 movie, so I was allowed to enjoy the 2020 movie as a stand alone creation. What can I say? I enjoyed it. It was light, funny, entertaining. The costumes, sets and scenery were first class and the main actors (ably backed up by the rest of the cast), I thought, did a good job and produced an amusing film.

If you just want to be entertained for an hour and a half by something that’s easy to watch and simple to follow with a few laughs along the way, this may be the movie for you. If however you’re a fan of the original movie….beware.

I’ll provide links to trailers of this version and to the 1945 original for you to judge for yourselves. For my money, the acting in the 1945 version looks wooden in comparison….but that’s just my opinion.

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