Empty and unfunny, this telling of the popular story is utterly dreadful on all accounts. I have watched this so you don’t have to.
You should only remake something if you have something new to say, right? It is the existing pitfall of contemporary Hollywood with numerous remakes and restarts failing to match the original’s novelty and encounter as simple cash magnets. Such is Blithe Spirit, a 2020 remake of David Lean’s 1945 movie, which in turn was adapted from the popular play by Noel Coward. In this horrible, empty production, the epitome of remake failure is illustrated.
The story is a basic one: in 1937 Charles Condomine, a having a hard time writer, invites a magical medium and clairvoyant round to perform a séance, which the former thinks will treat his author’s block. The séance summons the ghost of Charles’ dead ex-wife Elvira, whom only he can see and hear. This brings him into dispute with his current partner, Ruth. ‘Funny’ takes place. Playing Charles is Dan Stevens, an actor who at one point could have been a potential Bond. After this, the concept has somewhat staled. And in the function of the medium Madame Arcati is Dame Judi Dench, who by this point needs to actually be having a stern talking with her representative. The two partners are brought to life (pun intended) by Isla Fisher and Leslie Mann. It is a weird cast and none deliver.
Coward’s play never ever leaves Charles’ countryside estate and, after telling Lean to “just photo [the play], dear kid” the 1945 film just leaves the house towards the end in a minor narrative change. Perhaps the only thing going for this substandard remake is that it diverts away from the theatrical quality of the source product and opens the world of 1930 s England to encompass a variety of sets and locations.
Whereas the 1945 movie became well-known for its smart Oscar winning effects and its Technicolour photography, this telling of the story does not even try to be bold or experiment with the enjoyable effects that invisible ghosts can bring.
A character remarks “there’s no such thing as an original story” towards completion, which is most likely some desperate effort to make some creative meta-joke. However this is far from smart, and the line just strengthens the idea that in filmmaking, the laziness of a remake is still more appealing than the push for creativity.
Blithe Spirit, directed by Edward Hall, is dispersed in the UK by means of Sky, certificate 12 A. It’s offered to stream now on Sky Cinema/NOW TELEVISION.