The life of David Copperfield is chronicled from his youth into adulthood.
After a series of political comedies on screens both big and small, Armando Iannucci’s latest effort is his take on the Charles Dicken classic ‘David Copperfield’. Starring Dev Patel as Copperfield, it follows the life of the titular character as he rises, falls and rises again in 19th century England. Featuring a rogue’s gallery of familiar faces in the various supporting roles, it has fun performances but I didn’t find the film to be as funny or as entertaining as I’d hoped, which was a disappointment for a big fan of Iannucci’s work. I’m not sure his particular brand of humour worked in the Dickensian setting, certainly not as well as his more political works, although perhaps I just wasn’t on the same wavelength as plenty others in my cinema screening seemed to enjoy it!
Most people will know this story from previous adaptations or from reading the novel, and as such Iannucci has attempted to freshen up a familiar text. Much like Greta Gerwig has done with ‘Little Women‘, however less successfully in my opinion. We first meet David Copperfield as a young boy when he’s sent to work in the factories of Victorian London by his irritable stepfather, sending him on a journey that lifts him out of poverty and back into it again through a series of events. Along the way he comes across a variety of colourful characters and one of the pleasures of the film is seeing who has been cast in each role, with there barely being a bad performance amongst the cast. Ben Whishaw is an obvious highlight as Uriah Heep, with his take on the insincere and devious antagonist particularly entertaining.
‘The Personal History of David Copperfield’ is an interesting blend of Iannucci’s trademark humour and style and Dickens classic novel, and whilst it’s not without its charms, it didn’t entirely work for me and I thought it was fairly average.
Directed By: Armando Iannucci
Starring: Dev Patel, Jairaj Varsani, Tilda Swinton, Hugh Laurie, Peter Capaldi, Ben Whishaw, Paul Whitehouse, Aneurin Barnard, Daisy May Cooper, Morfydd Clark, Benedict Wong, Gwendoline Christie, Anthony Welsh, Rosalind Eleazar, Aimee Kelly, Sophie McShera, Divian Ladwa, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Ruby Bentall, Bronagh Gallagher, Darren Boyd and Matthew Cottle