The Personal History of David Copperfield starring Dev Patel released on Disney+ Hotstar today. Armando Iannucci has helmed the comedy-drama and also wrote the screenplay along with Simon Blackwell. Based on Charles Dickens’ novel, the film also stars Jairaj Varsani, Aneurin Barnard, Peter Capaldi, Daisy May Cooper, Morfydd Clark, Rosalind Eleazar, Hugh Laurie, Tilda Swinton, Ben Whishaw, Paul Whitehouse, Benedict Wong, Darren Boyd, and Gwendoline Christie.
The film had a theatrical release last year. However, due to lockdown and restriction rules, not everyone got to watch it on the big screen. So if you are one of those who haven’t watched it yet, well, it’s available online now. If you are wondering what to expect in the film, read our review.
The Personal History of David Copperfield is set in the 1850 Victorian era and narrates David Copperfield’s story from childhood to adulthood. Armando Iannucci and Simon Blackwell have presented every crucial characters and event in David’s life in the form of chapters. David, played by Dev Patel, narrates his own story as he reads his first novel to the audience.
David enjoys a wonderful life with his widowed mother, Clara (Morfydd Clark). For a few days, he’s sent to Yarmouth and lives with his nanny’s family, the Pegottys, in a boathouse. When he returns, he finds out that Clara is married to the wicked man Edward Murdstone (Darren Boyd). Murdstone sends young David (played by Jairaj Varsani) to Murdstone’s factory in London to do the labour work.
In London, David meets Mr Micawber (Peter Capaldi) and his family, who live a life full of debts. David grows into a young man (played by Dev Patel) with his stay with the Micawbers and still works at the Murdstone factory. After a tragedy in his life, David runs off to his aunt Betsey Trotwood (Tilda Swinton) and Mr Dick (Hugh Laurie).
David’s stay with them is one of the most important chapters of his life. Hereon, he meets some interesting people like James Steerforth (Aneurin Barnard), Agnes Wickfield (Rosalind Eleazar), and Uriah Heep (Ben Whishaw). It is amid these chapters David Copperfield also finds the love of his life.
Simon Blackwell and Armando Iannucci have nicely presented one of Charles Dickens’s most loved works in The Personal History of David Copperfield. It is said that Charles is telling his own stories through the character. If the writers had not given it a comedic touch, the film would’ve come off as quite dark. After all, there’s immense disappointment, betrayal and struggle in our protagonist’s life.
Along with the subtle comedy, what works brilliantly is Armando Iannucci’s direction. Almost every scene looks straight out of a colourful painting. Charlotte Dirickx’s impressive set decoration, Nick Dent, Todd Ellis, Thomas Goodwin, Dominique Law, Polly Stevens’ art direction, and Suzie Harman and Robert Worley’s costume design blend well and make it all appear appealing to the eyes.
Dev Patel is wonderful as David Copperfield. He has expressed every emotion, every feeling and presented every struggle of the character with great conviction. Child actor Jairaj Varsani has also played young David quite well. Other actors who shine in the film are Tilda Swinton, Peter Capaldi, Aneurin Barnard, and Rosalind Eleazar. The character I found weirdly fascinating is Mr Dick, played by Hugh Laurie.
What bothered me a bit is the length of The Personal History Of David Copperfield. It’s 119 minutes, so it’s not even that long. Yet, some chapters felt a bit stretched.
The Personal History Of David Copperfield: Is it worth it?
Overall, The Personal History Of David Copperfield is a delightful watch because of the story, performances, beautiful sets and humour. If you love Dev Patel already, the movie will make you fall more in love with him. Also, the different accents in the film are like pleasant music to the ears.
The Personal History Of David Copperfield is currently streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.
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