Staged and silly
- The Personal History of David Copperfield review by BE
This film was like a set of little stories strung together, it didn’t flow well and had some particularly bad acting from the supporting actors. Peter Capaldi also looked very out if place as Mr Micawber. The presentation of so many ‘people of colour’ in various roles, belied the writing of Charles Dickens and the times he lived in. I can see director, Armando Iannucci, homed in on the humour of the story, as opposed to the serious side but it really didn’t work.
5 out of 9 members found this review helpful.
Condensed and tweaked
- The Personal History of David Copperfield review by Pete W
An almost impossible task to cover David Copperfield in 2 hours, so I can see that shortcuts are needed. Parts of the film work, others clunk a bit. Dev Patel is good in the title role but Copperfield is not the main character in the book, he's the central point around which the other more eccentric characters revolve - seen in different ways (and called different names) by the other characters. Hugh Laurie is very touching as Mr Dick, Tilda Swinton a fearsome donkey bashing Betsy Trotwood. I couldn't decide whether I liked Ben Wishaw's creepy Uriah Heap but I really did not like Peter Capaldi as an accordion playing Mr Micawber. The denouement of the main plot and the unveiling of Heap's villainy is rushed. Why bother with the Yarmouth end of the story if you're going to completely change the outcome? A bit hit and miss.
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful.
It Would Magic If They Could Fit David Copperfield into Two Hours Running Time....see what I did.
- The Personal History of David Copperfield review by DS
Armando Iannucci and Simon Blackwell were always going to have a task at hand without worrying about what a few dyed-in-the-wool racists think about having a black actor playing a white actor’s mum and that task is the same as anyone who tries to commit well-loved Dickens novel to the cinema. It the fact that the length of a film cannot fit all the nuance and intricacies of most, if not all, of Dickens novels.
So we end up with quick cuts, exclusions and skimming from the original text, so as it ever was.
Iannucci is well known for his scalpel sharp wit and take on both modern and historical politics showing it up for all of its redundancy, pomp and ridiculousness but clearly the modern world and our glorious leaders have made his take on this redundant. So why not to Dickens who stories were equally scapel sharp, astute comments on Victorian Britain?
This take on David Copperfield flows with an eccentric oddball humour from the off and we are swept along with some speed through the title character’s trials and tribulations. Unfortunately this is at the expense of supporting characters so we only get thumbnail sketches of them and it depends on the skill of the actor whether you connect with the person on the screen. Due to some excellent casting and some great locations in general the film gets away with it.
Dev Patel is uniformly excellent in anything he puts his hand to and his kind-hearted and honest David Copperfield is no exception and luckily he is ably supported by Peter Capaldi as an unlikely Mr. Micawber, as optimistic as ever, and a myriad of experienced and talented actors from Hugh Laurie, in a role that seems to have been waiting for Hugh Laurie over the years, Tilda Swinton carrying on her quest to seemingly play only strange and eccentric people, and the aforementioned Rosalind Eleazar as Agnes who captured all attention as soon as he appeared on the screen for me. Ben Whishaw must be mentioned in dispatches as everyone’s favourtie slimey, hang-wringing Uriah Heep, black hat firmly in place but oddly just enough sympathy at the closing stages of the film.
The problem is not in the direction, writing, cinematography, sets or acting but rather the material and after enjoying and watching The Personal History of David Copperfield you feel as if some large part of it was left on the editing floor, it wasn’t it was simply this was story telling pared down to fit in with cinema running times and modern audiences.
As such the film did a good job and all those involved such proud and pleased with their efforts, Unfortunately though, and I say this with a heavy-heart being an admirer of Armando Innaunci, this film proved to me that David Copperfield would be best served with a high value production TV series with enough episodes to do the story justice.
Still fun enough for a Sunday afternoon viewing with all the family.
1 out of 2 members found this review helpful.