The Personal History Of David Copperfield Review
What’s It About?
Adaptation of the classic Charles Dickens novel, which sees the eponymous hero shunted from home to home until he finally becomes a gentleman.
Who’s In It?
Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire, Lion, & more recently Hotel Mumbai)
Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton, We Need To Talk About Kevin, & more recently Suspiria)
Ben Whishaw (Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer, Paddington, & more recently Mary Poppins Returns)
Hugh Lawrie (Sense & Sensibility, House MD, & more recently Veep)
Director: Armando Iannucci (The Thick Of It, Veep, & more recently The Death Of Stalin)
Known for his biting wit and satire in In The Thick Of It, Veep and also The Death Of Stalin, an adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic of David Copperfield may seems like a strange move for the supremely talented Armando Iannucci. Yet, once seen, The Personal History Of David Copperfield seems perfectly in keeping with his body of work.
Yes it may lack some of the vicious swearing or total idiocy, but it is still shining a light, a la Dickens, on the establishment and the terrible living and working conditions in Victorian England.
Perhaps a little more light-hearted than Dickens, Iannucci’s Copperfield follows much the same story, but with a little more multiculturalism. Dev Patel plays the wide-eyed and optimistic eponymous hero, hoping to become a gentleman in society, but when his mother remarries, poor David’s life spirals out of control as he is shifted from makeshift home to makeshift home, meeting plenty of interesting characters on his odyssey working in bottle factories, eking out an existence with the penniless Mr Micawber, or shooting the breeze with the eccentric Mr Dick.
There are some love interests along the way, plus the insidious Uriah Heep sucking the life out of everyone Dementor-style, as David battles everything that confronts him with remarkable charm and positivity culminating in a big show down involving all the characters.
Dev Patel is fabulous in the lead role, but unfortunately for him, this film is blessed with a truly outstanding cast, with Ben Whishaw delivering an incredible turn as the snake Uriah Heep, and Hugh Laurie possibly stealing the whole thing as the erratic Mr Dick. Meanwhile Peter Capaldi, Tilda Swinton and Benedict Wong all provide incredible support too.
Perhaps not quite as biting as his previous work, Armando Iannucci has still delivered a wonderful, energetic and thoroughly absorbing adaptation of Dickens, with a truly first rate cast.
In A Nutshell:
A fun, energetic retelling of the classic Dickens tale, and despite lacking Iannucci’s usual bite, it is thoroughly absorbing.
Hugh Lawrie’s turn as Mr Dick
Ben Whishaw as Uriah Heep
The energy and vibrancy of the script
Iannucci fans may expect it to be funnier than it is