The Personal History Of David Copperfield

****

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Dev Patel in The Personal History Of David Copperfield which will open LFF
"It would be difficult to find anything but goodness in Copperfield's personal history and a delight in the way things turn and turn again." | Photo: Courtesy of London Film Festival

It seems weird if not wonderful that Glaswegian satirist, Armando Iannucci (The Thick Of It. Veep, In The Loop, The Death Of Stalin) should aim his arrows of discontent at Charles D's best loved novel and do it at such a pace no one has time to squeal.

Literary historians and Dickensian bufferoons should stay in the drawing room playing whist. What Iannucci has done is let his imagination ride roughshod over Charlie's novel. Young David (Dev Patel) introduces himself as the teller of his own tale at the start and thanks to his personality and charm you don't feel the slightest upset that he's of Indian heritage and when Mr Micawber (Peter Capaldi) turns out to be Mr Nice Guy's even nicer cousin you don't reach for the sick bag because you can't stop smiling.

Copy picture

The film is a family adventure, not a politically barbed farce because that would have constrained the actors who, without exception, are a delight. David goes to live with his aunt (Tilda Swinton), who spends her time, or what is left of it, chasing interlopers and their animals off her property. David is glad to help. Also in the house is Mr Dick (Hugh Laurie on scintillating form) an eccentric academic who worries deep into the night about the king's head, the one chopped from his body in an act of (civil) war.

The boy is banished to London where life is hard and characters fall over themselves in their struggle to find a loophole in the social hierarchy that controls everything. Thanks to Micawber and others the fun keeps coming and David discovers the confidence of his natural good nature.

It would be difficult to find anything but goodness in Copperfield's personal history and a delight in the way things turn and turn again.

Reviewed on: 23 Jan 2020
Share this with others on...
The Personal History Of David Copperfield packshot
Retelling of the Dickens classic.

Director: Armando Iannucci

Writer: Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, based on the novel by Charles Dickens

Starring: Tilda Swinton, Ben Whishaw, Rosalind Eleazar, Hugh Laurie, Gwendoline Christie, Dev Patel, Aneurin Barnard, Sophie McShera, Peter Capaldi, Benedict Wong, Bronagh Gallagher, Aimée Kelly, Anthony Welsh, Ruby Bentall, Nikki Amuka-Bird

Year: 2019

Runtime: 119 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: UK, US

Festivals:

London 2019

Search database: