The Personal History of David Copperfield review round-up: Dev Patel's film is 'bold, playful, irrepressibly optimistic'

The Personal History of David Copperfield is among the first movies to run in cinemas after months of lockdown due to the COVID19 pandemic.

FP Trending August 27, 2020 12:39:19 IST
The Personal History of David Copperfield review round-up: Dev Patel's film is 'bold, playful, irrepressibly optimistic'

Dev Patel plays the titular role in the adaptation of Charles Dickens' novel David Copperfield, written and directed by Armando Iannucci. The Searchlight Pictures comedy-drama, set in Victorian England, follows the protagonist — modelled after the author himself — right from his impoverished childhood to becoming a famous author.

Besides Patel, The Personal History of David Copperfield stars Tilda Swinton (David’s aunt Betsey Trotwood), Hugh Laurie (Mr Dick), Peter Capaldi (Wilkins Micawber), Rosalind Eleazar (Agnes Wickfield), Benedict Wong (Mr. Wickfield), and Ben Whishaw (Uriah Heep). 

The Personal History of David Copperfield review roundup Dev Patels film is bold playful irrepressibly optimistic

A still from A Personal History of David Copperfield | Image from Twitter @alamowinchester

In a recent interaction with Press Trust of India, Patel had spoken about the film's diverse cast: "With Armando opening up the world in terms of casting, it made it more representative of a Britain that I grew up in."

The Personal History of David Copperfield is among the first movies to run in cinemas after months of lockdown due to the COVID19 pandemic.

The film had its world premiere last year at the Toronto International Film Festival, followed by a theatrical release in the UK in January 2020. The Personal History of David Copperfield is slated to be out in the US on 28 August.

The reviews of the comedy-drama are out and critics seemed to be more than satisfied with Armando Iannucci and co-writer Simon Blackwell's creation.

The Washington Post: "Thanks to the company of fine actors Iannucci has assembled, and to the director’s own command of the material, the cosmopolitan gaggle of urchins, eccentrics, sharpies and rounders who populate The Personal History of David Copperfield look right at home in Victorian London, but also can’t help but evoke the present-day, when the obstacles of class, caste, and predatory capitalism stubbornly persist. Bold, playful and irrepressibly optimistic, The Personal History of David Copperfield perfectly manifests the spirit of the hero of its own story: Amid struggle and suffering it digs for joy, and always manages to find it."

Deadline: The filmmakers find freshness, relevance, even messages for our times about identity and how you present yourself, among other things. As with all things Dickens, the book was chock-full of colorful characters, too many in fact, and this version highlights several in ways both faithful and, more important, innovative."

Vulture: "The Personal History of David Copperfield doesn’t make fun of its source material so much as it has fun with it — Morfydd Clark, for instance, plays both David’s widowed mother and his mismatched first love Dora. It’s still a story that touches on child labour, debtors’ prisons, and other plights of poverty and class, but Iannucci leans into the text’s humor while adding a touch of surreality, turning it into a 19th century bildungsroman by way of Alice in Wonderland."

The Guardian (in a review from January this year): "Astutely amplifying the absurdist – and remarkably modernist – elements of his source, Iannucci and co-writer Simon Blackwell conjure a surreal cinematic odyssey that is as accessible as it is intelligent and unexpected."

Variety (in a review from TIFF): "Rather than updating Dickens’ semiautobiographical bildungsroman — which the author described as “a favourite child” among all his novels — to the present, as others have tried over the years, Iannucci brings a contemporary sensibility to the Victorian setting. In that sense, the movie resembles Tony Richardson’s madcap adaptation of Tom Jones, with its in-on-the-joke narrator (Copperfield narrates his own story, much as he does in the novel) and assorted postmodern touches (both films feature a sped-up silent-movie sequence), although it lacks the rebellious generational sensibility that made that film a fluky success."

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