Noël Coward’s classic comedy work, Blithe Spirit, finds new life in its ghoulishly funny tale of why tampering with the spirit world isn’t always a great idea, and audiences are in for plenty of light-hearted fun with this one.
A spiritualist medium holds a seance for a writer suffering from writer’s block but accidentally summons the spirit of his deceased first wife, which leads to an increasingly complex love triangle with his current wife of five years.
Regarded as one of the most flamboyant and wittiest writers of all time, Noël Coward was a writer who always guaranteed delivery of original content, and his ghoulish comedy, Blithe Spirit, is continuously marked out as one of his most original works ever produced. Now the aforementioned play makes its way to the big screen for a second outing and director Edward Hall has plenty of fun with its satirical comedy of an aloof writer and the women, both real and passed over, who occupy his life. From start to finish. Blithe Spirit is nothing short of fun, and for those who are unfamiliar with the story, this one delivers plenty of surprises and some very unexpected turns that keep you engaged the whole way through.
Starring at the centre of Blithe Spirit is renowned British actor Dan Stevens as the film’s protagonist Charles Condomine, a thoroughly neurotic, hack writer who is desperately looking for a hit and who just can’t move on from the passing of his first wife Elvira. But when her spirit returns, things soon get interesting for Charles, and Stevens runs away with his performance on this one. As with all the performers in this film, Stevens has a ball with the part, and he really lets himself go as this extremely uptight character who has a rendevous with the spirit world. It’s a great part for him to play and there’s plenty to enjoy from his performance.
Cast in the role of Charles’ formally deceased wife Elvira is Leslie Mann, and Mann lets herself go with this performance. Frequently cast as a ‘know it all’ wife or mother, Elvira is as far removed these types of characters as possible in Blithe Spirit. It also helps the narrative, and Mann’s performance, that Elvira has a bit of an axe to grind with Charles and their relationship is ‘complicated’ to say the least. Mann has nothing but fun with the part and as an audience member, it’s very fun to watch her cut loose as this bad girl who is out for a good time.
Standing next to Stevens’ Charles, and incomplete opposite to Mann’s Elvira is Isla Fisher as Charles new wife Ruth. And this is something completely different from Fisher. Normally known for portraying loud and sassy characters, Ruth is a completely pretentious and proper character who is none too pleased with her husband’s lack of interest and effort. And she’s even less pleased with the return of Elvira’s crazed spirit. But while you think she might be one type of person, she’s actually a completely sincere and affectionate character and Fisher’s performance endears her even more to audiences because of this. The character of Ruth is a great point of difference for Fisher and she really is something special in Blithe Spirit.
Visually, Blithe Spirit is an incredible feast to look upon thanks to its beautiful Art Nouveau/Art Deco setting, and the film’s lusciously grand setting, stage direction, costuming and hair and make-up pulls you in deeper to its narrative. Productions set during the Roaring Twenties are always fun to look upon, and Blithe Spirit definitely falls into this category with its lavish visuals which add to the glamour and decadence of the narrative.
Audiences seeking a bit of haughty fun will fall in love with Blithe Spirit for its originality, characters and production. It’s a film that does the great Noël Coward proud and I can guarantee that this is a great night out in cinemas!
Image: MadMan Films