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Friday, May 21, 2021

Blithe Spirit (2021)

Doing research for a screenplay he's writing, a novelist (Dan Stevens) invites  a medium (Judi Dench) to his home to hold a seance. However, the medium inadvertently conjures up the spirit of the writer's deceased first wife (Leslie Mann) which doesn't please his current wife (Isla Fisher) at all. Based on the play by Noel Coward and directed by Edward Hall (son of director Peter Hall). Coward's jewel of a drawing room comedy would seem to be foolproof, that is if you don't fiddle with it. Unfortunately, this adaptation fiddles with it to the point that only a skeleton of the play is left. The screenplay opens up the play (which takes place entirely in one room) so that we're all over the place: on a lake, at a film studio, at a theatre, at a garden party, at a bar etc. and several subsidiary characters are added that weren't in the play. The character of Madame Arcati (Judi Dench) is enlarged from the play giving her more to do and making her less dotty (and less amusing) than Coward's play. The spark just isn't there and only Leslie Mann, who manages a sassy impudence (but not of the Coward type) provides some decent line readings. The plot tosses in some real people like Greta Garbo (Stella Stocker), Cecil B. DeMille (Colin Stinton) and gossip columnist Hedda Hopper (Georgina Rich). With Emilia Fox and Michele Dotrice.  

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