Title – The Personal History of David Copperfield (2019)
Director – Armando Iannucci (The Death of Stalin)
Cast – Dev Patel, Tilda Swinton, Hugh Laurie, Peter Capaldi, Ben Whishaw, Benedict Wong, Rosalind Eleazar
Plot – A re-imagining of the classic Charles Dickens tale that follows the early life of David Copperfield (Patel) who is battling to find a life for himself in 18th century England as he finds trouble in his family and his friendships.
“I can easily recall people of strong character”
Review by Eddie on 13/07/2020
Scottish director Armando Iannucci isn’t the first name that springs to mind when one thinks of a director of Charles Dickens novels but the famed comedic filmmaker makes for a refreshing behind camera master of this more modern take on Dicken’s semi-autobiographical tale.
Renowned for some of the modern era’s greatest politically astute comedies in the form of In the Loop and The Death of Stalin, as well as extensive work on hit TV show Veep, Iannucci dials things back quite a bit here without ever losing sight of the oddball humor that has made his career so enjoyable, as we follow Dev Patel’s kind hearted David Copperfield across a multi-year journey of trials and tribulations as he tries to find his way in a world that seems intent on knocking him down.
Not following any particular one plot thread, the film takes on board Copperfield’s experience’s being raised by Peter Capaldi’s money waster Mr Micawber, his teenage years education and most importantly his life-defining relationship with Tilda Swinton’s oddball aunt Betsey Trotwood and her mentally unhinged friend Mr. Dick, played wonderfully by Hugh Laurie.
There’s a lot to cram into History’s two hour run-time, one that Iannucci at times struggles to balance out, with the films later stages in particular feeling as though they could’ve had more time to breath but overall the film remains an entertaining and enthusiastic rendition of a story that has stood the test of time.
Front and centre throughout are some fantastic production values to this independent film, duly noted in the films large collection of nominations at last years British Independent Film Awards and another great lead performance from Dev Patel, who much like his fellow Skins graduate Nicholas Hoult has proven time and time again that his one of the most assured performers working today.
Patel’s infectiously enjoyable performance is a genuine example of a film that is having a lot of fun with its narrative and one were the cast and crew clearly had a ball bringing it to life, while its likely to divide die-hard Dicken’s fans, its great to see a director of Iannucci’s skill-set tackle such a task.
Final Say –
It may not be quite up to the high-standards of the best Dicken’s features but The Personal History of David Copperfield is a joyous little film with a lot of heart and a killer on-song cast to boot.
3 1/2 heavy cakes out of 5