Review Round Up: The Personal History of David Copperfield

Love London Love Culture rounds up the reviews for  Armando Iannucci’s film based on the novel David Copperfield by Charles Dickens.

The Independent: **** “The film’s diverse approach to casting will inevitably cause a fuss, but the joy is in how casually it all comes across. It’s a wonderful retort to Hollywood’s obsessive whitewashing of history.”

The Metro: **** “Essentially a string of vignettes, the pace stumbles in places but Iannucci directs with brio — his vividly drawn characters, also including Ben Wishaw’s cringing Uriah Heep and Hugh Laurie’s lovable Mr Dick, all singing from the same hymn sheet. Visual dash and aplomb abound, and the production design is a dream.”

The Daily Mail: **** “Patel, never the most subtle of performers, is in his element in a role that actually benefits from a degree of over-acting. He’s an engaging lead. Better still, we are quickly introduced to some of the most cherishable Dickensian characters, such as the housekeeper Peggotty (warmly played by Daisy May Cooper) and David’s eccentric aunt, Betsey Trotwood.”

The Guardian: **** “Iannucci’s emphasis is on the muscular forward gallop of the story – possibly taking his eye off the pathos and grownup sadness, though there is a strong focus on poverty and homelessness. But everything rattles and zings like a pinball machine, and it’s a bracing, entertaining, richly satisfying experience.”

Empire: **** “If anything suffers from this restless approach, it’s the message of the original novel. Dickens famously used his novels to campaign for better treatment of England’s underclasses, a theme that feels slightly forgotten at times, or shoehorned in as an afterthought. What it does retain, however, is both Dickens’ and Copperfield’s love of writing and language, and how they shape a view of the world.”

The Telegraph: **** “Few would have anticipated such warmth and playfulness at this moment from the director of The Death of Stalin and creator of The Thick of It, the most excoriating political satire of the age. But there is something wonderfully unexpected – and dare I even say subversive? – in responding to our fraught times with a film in which wit and goodness win through in the end.”

Evening Standard: **** “Tilda Swinton is worth seeing the film for alone, imperious and cracked, but kind. And likewise Hugh Laurie is at his funniest as mad Mr Dick. Nobody does bafflement better. Paul Whitehouse plays it wonderfully broad as Daniel Peggotty and Ben Whishaw is a surprising and effective Uriah Heep, more like somehow a sinister dark side to David himself than a pure villain.”

The Spectator: “Armando Iannucci’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield is a romp told at a lick, and while it’s fun and likeable with fantastic casting — Hugh Laurie as Mr Dick is especially sublime — it is not particularly immersive or memorable.”

City AM: “But it lacks bite. It has little to say about class or the distribution of wealth that isn’t explicitly spelled out in Dickens’ 1850 novel. Iannucci seems happy to simply spend time with these characters. Which is fine. The film is fine. I was just hoping for more.”

The Personal History of David Copperfield is out now in cinemas.

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