Blithe Spirit Parent Guide
It's frothy and fun but also morally ambiguous.
Parent Movie Review
Writer’s block is a universal experience. Who among us hasn’t sat, wordless and paralyzed, in front of an exam, term paper, or letter to a significant someone? When an author scrambles for the right word, we can all empathize with his or her mounting anxiety and desperation.
Charles Condomine (Dan Stevens) is an award-winning crime novelist who hasn’t managed to publish anything for seven years. Commissioned to write a screenplay based on one of his books, he’s staring blankly at his typewriter, feeling more than a little bit panicky. Finally, an evening at a failed spiritualist production inspires him: he decides to write a script based on a séance. To pick up details for his story, Charles hires the medium, Madame Arcati (Judi Dench), to conduct a séance at his home. Then lightning strikes and the unremarkable becomes uncanny. Charles’s first wife, Elvira (Leslie Mann) returns from the dead – but only Charles can see her…
Blithe Spirit is a silly film but it’s also a fun one, adapted from Noel Coward’s popular 1941 play. The ludicrous narrative doesn’t take itself seriously, allowing the frothy story to zip along, with no depth to weigh it down and plenty of plot twists to keep it interesting. If you enjoy farce and dark comedy, you’ll get a kick out of this film. If it’s period fashion that appeals to you, all the more reason to watch – the 1930s wardrobes are meticulously recreated. The acting is excellent, with Dan Stevens becoming increasingly weaselly throughout the story as both of his past and current wives become more irate.
Given its light tone, the film doesn’t bother itself with moral messages, blithely skipping through scenes of non-stop alcohol consumption as well as repeated mentions of impotence and adultery (which is not shown on screen). The movie contains plenty of slapstick violence as well as some genuinely perilous moments, including a couple of murders (which are played for laughs). The story really focuses only on a single message, implicitly condemning the entitlement of men who take credit for women’s achievements.
While adult fans of period films will probably get a kick out of this one, Blithe Spirit is not suitable for younger viewers thanks to its moral ambiguities. Mature teen viewers might enjoy the farce and are certainly old enough to evaluate the film’s ethical quandaries. The word “blithe” means “showing a casual and cheerful indifference considered to be callous or improper”. Whether you consider that a lighthearted, positive trait or a disrespectful, negative one will likely determine if Blithe Spirit finds an audience in your home.Directed by Edward Hall. Starring Dan Stevens, Isla Fisher, Leslie Mann, Judi Dench. Running time: 95 minutes. Theatrical release February 19, 2021. Updated February 20, 2021
Watch the trailer for Blithe Spirit
Rating & Content Info
Why is Blithe Spirit rated PG-13? Blithe Spirit is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for suggestive references and some drug material
Violence: A main character throws things out the window, destroying a statue. There is mention of a person dying after falling from a horse. A main character gets punched in the face and then slapped across the nose. An angry character throws plates, tosses cards, and vandalizes a garden. Knives are thrown at someone. A woman draws a razor across a man’s throat. A character dies when their car goes over a cliff. A man smashes a window with a mallet. A man is strapped into a bed. A character is run over by a car.
Sexual Content: A woman advises a friend to have an adulterous relationship. There is a coded discussion of male impotence. A man calls a woman a harlot. A woman talks about unbuttoning her blouse. A man and woman kiss. A woman holds shears over a man’s crotch. A woman takes her clothes off at a party. A woman tries to seduce her husband. There is brief mention of adulterous liaisons although with no on-screen activity.
Profanity: There are fewer than a dozen profanities, principally terms of deity and minor swear words.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A man drinks almost constantly, while working or while stressed or in social situations. A man gets drunk on several occasions. A doctor gives amphetamines to his friend to treat impotence. There are scenes of social drinking. Main characters smoke cigarettes occasionally. A person’s drink is drugged without her knowledge.
Page last updated February 20, 2021
Blithe Spirit Parents' Guide
Why does Charles take credit for Elvira’s contributions to his writing? Why does she let him?
Charles and Elvira seem to remember their marriage differently as the movie progresses. Their originally rosy view of their lives changes into a more cynical one, discounting past happiness. Which view do you think is more accurate?
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Blithe Spirit was written by Noel Coward. Another Coward play concerned with show biz is Present Laughter. Coward goes deeper in This Happy Breed, examining the fate of an English family between the two world wars.
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Even death can’t stop love in the movies…When David Abbott rents an apartment, he’s startled to meet a ghost that lives in the closet. He tries to figure out how to get her to leave – until he falls in love with her in Just Like Heaven. In P.S. I Love You Holly’s husband is dead, but he pre-recorded messages for her to be delivered after his death. A doctor desperately wants to connect with his deceased wife in Dragonfly.
A medium takes a starring role in Magic in the Moonlight. Stanley decides to debunk a woman’s psychic powers, only to have her steal his heart.
If you can’t get enough of Dan Stevens in period films, he also stars in The Man Who Invented Christmas.