Wednesday , January 27 2021

Blithe Spirit – Noel Coward will turn into a grave

America has Marvel; UK has Downton abbey… If Iron Man and the Hulk have set the tone for blockbusters in the past decade, then Julian Fellows’ saga above and below has had a similar impact in Britain. The show may already be over, but his memory is still the signal for Blissful spirit, a cream tea outfit in which Downton star Dan Stevens and co-alumnus of the series, director Edward Hall, are reviving Noel Coward’s supernatural fun.

Only minor changes have been made. Just a script thrown out in bulk. Instead of Coward’s catchphrases, three acclaimed writers now offer a nickname for the protagonist’s penis as a climax. Godspeed Global Britain.

In the background are the 1937 home counties, an insane fake. Stevens – Crime writer Charles Condomine, deadline approaching, getting ready for breakfast. A marriage to a serious Ruth (Isla Fisher) could have been more lively. Memories of the late first wife Elvira remain until the session with the medium Madame Arkati (Judi Dench) conveys an obsessive meaning. Elvira (played by Leslie Mann) returns shortly, a gleaming blonde who is physically disembodied but still thrills in bed.

Dan Stevens and Leslie Mann in Blissful Spirit © Sky Cinema Original and StudioCa

Internal logic is not the film’s forte. What? Put a gun to my head and I could say Joldwynds, the modernist Surrey heap used as the main spot. Maybe just put a gun to my head. Better than watching a movie.

The 1945 adaptation of the play by David Lean made a splash because the director was not a comedian. But he knew how to demonstrate Coward’s pun, and the film looked amazing, Elvira exuding the absinthe green glow of a technicolor. Hall repeats the installation, like a farce about missing pants, filled with grinning jokes forced to continue until they fall to their knees, sobbing. Stevens’ mugs and cats. The rest of the participants look like this: “I just work here.”

The most commonly used is Dench. Where Lin released Margaret Rutherford as a violent clairvoyant, her successor is stuck as a heterosexual woman, a national treasure put up for sale in a tourist gift shop. At one point, she appears in a red phone booth atop what might pass for the white cliffs of Dover. “Full house!” you can cry. The Lord knows that you have to do the entertainment yourself.

★ ☆☆☆☆

About Sky Cinema UK from 15 January

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