Here’s my most honest advice about Edward Hall’s new comedy, Blithe Spirit: sit this one out. Set to be released this week in most theaters nationwide during the COVID-19 pandemic, you really shouldn’t risk your health for a movie that will have you bored out of your mind within the first hour.
Adapted from a 1941 play created by Nöel Coward, Blithe Spirit tells the story of an uninspired writer, Charles Condomine (Dan Steve), who hires a medium, Madame Arcati (Judi Dench), to perform a seance at his house in the hopes to gather material for his novel. When Madame Arcati accidentally brings back the spirit of his dead ex-wife, Elvira (Leslie Mann), Condomine’s caught in an unconventional love triangle between his new wife, Ruth (Isla Fisher), and the ghost of the dead one.
Although Blithe Spirit is considered a classic play, Edward Hall turned a theatrical masterpiece into a mess. It is surprising to know that Hall spent his career as a theater director and on shows like Downton Abbey and The Durrels in Corfu. Set and costume design also failed to deliver, making me feel like I had just watched a 95 minutes long school play.
It was also unfortunate that two great, funny actors like Leslie Mann and Isla Fisher were not only underused but had their characters become victims of the woman against woman trope. And speaking about acting, Judi Dench remains a mystery. Is she just having fun being part of bad movies or going through a bad-luck phase in her decades-long acting career?
Going in – virtually – not knowing what to expect and just with the trailer as a reference, Blithe Spirit was a very disappointing experience, but one that, fortunately, was free and that I could watch from my couch.