Blithe Spirit (2021)

Reviewer: Charity Bishop

This comedic tale about the afterlife serves up a few laughs, but its ultimately unlikable characters make it easy to pass up.

Charles (Dan Stevens) is a writer suffering from writer's block five years after the death of his first wife. After attending a medium's performance that goes horribly array, he convinces her (Judi Dench) to come back to his summer estate with him and hold a séance by convincing her it will restore her fledgling reputation. In truth, Charles is hoping to mine her performance for ideas for his next book, but gets more than he or his wife Ruth (Isla Fisher) bargained for when she accidentally resurrects the spirit of Elvira (Leslie Mann), his first wife. She doesn't realize she's dead and then doesn't appreciate it -- nor the woman who has taken control of his life, either. Worse, only Charles can see her, rendering everyone around him incredulous at his increasingly erratic behavior. He keeps swearing at no one, making offhanded inappropriate remarks, and throwing little tantrums.

Even that is livable, but then Elvira decides she's tired of trying to get his attention and she intends to kill him instead. Not about to let a ghost horn in on her marriage, Ruth decides to take matters into her own hands and bring back the medium to fix the problems she caused -- but... well, things never turn out how we plan. Before long, Charles has even worse problems than writer's block.

This movie, based on a play, has a terrific cast and is highly colorful. Everything is beautiful and picturesque, from how Ruth waltzes around her lush home in lavish outfits, to the martinis she and her guests down at a soirée. It's pretty and full of talent and the writing is often quite clever... but it's hard to like any of the characters. Ruth doesn't really care about the integrity of her husband's work, she just wants him to make money so she can purchase pretty things. Elvira is highly entertaining, but also extremely immoral. And then there's Charles, a man who cheats on his second wife with the ghost of his first wife (we find out through some cringe-worthy dialogue that they had sex... however that works). A big twist near the end also reveals that Elvira has had her revenge and gotten the last laugh. As a black comedy, it's fun, but my increasing dislike for everyone means I'd never watch it again.

Sexual Content:
Ruth tells her husband he had better not cheat on her with a ghost; he scoffs at this, and later does exactly that -- the ghost and he apparently have sex next to Ruth's body, after Elvira drugs her drink (at the party, she becomes drunk, rowdy, takes off her clothes in front of people, and then tries to seduce her husband before she abruptly decides not to, and falls asleep). There's sexual references peppered throughout, some immodest clothing, etc.
 
Language:
A handful of profanities and a couple dozen abuses of God's name.
 
Violence:
Slapstick violence, and several car accidents where people are killed. Ghosts try to off living people by dropping furniture intended to kill them off balconies.

Other:
Lots of social drinking, drunkenness, being hung-over, etc.