Blithe Spirit review – unhappy reimagining of Coward’s classic

Not even Judi Dench can save this feeble remake of the playwright’s 1941 comedy

This asinine adaptation of Noël Coward’s 1941 stage play stars Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens as author Charles Condomine, who accidentally summons the playful ghost of his late first wife after participating in an ill-advised seance. Stevens plays Condomine as a cliche of a blocked writer, emboldened by booze and misogyny, knee-deep in discarded drafts of a screenplay based on his bestselling crime novel.

Edward Hall’s film attempts to send up Condomine for leeching off a female muse, which clashes somewhat with the source material’s “blithe” mood. The impish Leslie Mann is well cast as his dead wife, Elvira, who provides a jolt of creative inspiration. Judi Dench’s screechy caricature of psychic Madame Arcati is less winning.

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