Ewan Gleadow

Movie Review: Blithe Spirit

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Copyright: Sky

As horrid the pandemic has been for the industry, there are slight benefits. When cinemas closed their doors, it put to pasture certain films, such as Blithe Spirit. Or so we had hoped. Instead, Sky Cinema believes it is their duty to release this to a shocked and broken public, presumably to wring a slight morsel of cash into their ever-growing empire. Try as they might to make this remake of the David Lean film of the same name work, there is no chance for director Edward Hall and his surprisingly talented cast. If the best of the best are struggling here, then it is unfathomable to think of what Hall and his crew would do without them. 

Somehow wrangling Judi Dench, Isla Fisher and Leslie Mann all star alongside up-and-comer Dan Stevens in this broken, bland narrative that wishes to instil some of that British spirit. Days of old when you’d have afternoon tea on the patio next to the bomb shelter, or had a round of tennis with a close friend, the spouse off having affairs and eating truffles in their office. The usual, posh, uppity, characters make the rounds, fear settling into its eyes as the rage inside boils over. All very droll, had it not been done seventy years before, then Blithe Spirit would have been an immaculate, light drama. But this is decades hence, and the best Fisher and Stevens can offer is an awkward relationship that smacks of caricature-like misrepresentations of post-war classism in Britain.   

Boring, broken caricatures of novel and inaccurate stereotypes, Blithe Spirit starts with a weak struggle against its own themes. What few opportune moments Hall can offer audiences are found in sparse pockets from minor supporting roles. Julian Rhind-Tutt makes for a nice appearance, and as brief as it may be it is a respite from the humourless moments found beyond. Worst of all is Dench, which is a true tragedy, but considering her track record these last few years, is not that grand a surprise. Between this, Artemis Fowl and Cats, there is no rest for a fantastic actor in their twilight years, lining her pockets with the sweet rewards of such congested misery.  

With an integral British charm, Blithe Spirit will hobble along, appealing to the upper echelons of a post-mid-life crisis audience. Quirky, light, quintessentially British. It’s unbearable. This replication of speech and colloquialisms, the tipping of the hat and the “jolly good” expressions are copy and pasted over with little care and even less love. Sporadically awful, but not necessarily a piece devoid of any humour. As light it may be on laughs and steady performances, what little intermissions of quality there are throughout should be collated and held onto for dear life. Perhaps a séance should be held, contact David Lean, show him this film, and watch him clamber out of the grave to give those involved with this unnecessary remake a smack on the nose.