The Personal History of David Copperfield is Armando Iannucci’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic novel David Copperfield. Starring Dev Patel as the titular character, the film follows his life and hardship.
As this was a new project from Armando Iannucci I went in with some pretty high expectations. He is obviously known for his scathing political commentary inside his satirical humour. And whilst David Copperfield is funny, it lacks the edge I’d hoped for given Iannucci’s involvement in the film.
That said his colour blind casting of the film has led to a him assembling an extraordinary who’s who of British acting talent, lead by Dev Patel. Patel has, over the last 10 years or so, shown himself to be a truly brilliant actor, likeable but also capable of capturing great emotion without being over the top in her performances.
From the rest of the cast Benedict Wong particularly stands out as David’s alcoholic neighbour Mr. Wickfield as does Ben Whishaw, who is near unrecognisable as the slimy villain of the piece Uriah Heep. But the whole cast is fantastic, and deliver on the comedic front and with the drama.
The issue with The Personal History of David Copperfield though is that it just feels a little safe and very traditional, and like a standard Dickens adaptation. If that’s your cup of tea then you’ll probably love David Copperfield, but I couldn’t help but feel disappointed given the talent involved, both in front of and behind the camera, that is wasn’t more original or daring.