As somebody with no prior knowledge of Charles Dickens’ novel David Copperfield, it was certainly interesting to check out Armando Iannucci’s big screen take on the old Victorian tale.
It’s fair to say that the works of Dickens and the Victorian era aren’t really my cup of tea when it comes to source material, but it was hard not to be intrigued by the impressive cast put together for this more modern adaptation of the story.
Of course, the first thing that will catch your eye is what is being dubbed the colour-blind casting; best highlighted by the excellent Dev Patel taking on the title role.
An Asian man with white parents in an era where racism would certainly have been front and centre, Patel is nowhere near a typical cast here. But that theme runs throughout, with ethnicity never once mentioned and actors of many different backgrounds used.
It’s a refreshing move – and is done very well.
A story told many times over the years, this version kicks off with Patel’s Copperfield reciting his story before racing through a painted backdrop straight into the East Anglian countryside.
He’s keen to know if he’s the hero of his own story and sets about sharing the key events of his life with the audience.
It’s something of a riches to rags, to riches to rags (if that makes any sense) story, realised beautifully with plenty of quirky and interesting characters and some excellent cinematography.
Iannucci is also well known for his comedic moments, a trait that is also incorporated here – with varying results.
While Patel steals the show with a fine performance as David Copperfield, there are a host of other strong performances here.
From the villainous Murdstone duo Edward (Darren Boyd) and Jane (Gwendoline Christie) to eccentric trio Mr Micawber (Peter Capaldi), Betsey Trotwood (Tilda Swinton) and Mr Dick (Hugh Laurie), the talent is through the roof.
That’s not even mentioning Ben Whishaw’s creepy turn as Uriah Heep, which is very memorable.
Truth be told, I enjoyed The Personal History of David Copperfield way more than I expected.
Sure, I’ll not be rushing to watch it again and I did switch off at times, but I could certainly appreciate the performances of the cast and Iannucci’s direction.
Packed with character and fresh ideas, there’s much to enjoy for most filmgoers here.
Whether those loyal to the source material will appreciate the changes is another matter, but my fresh eyes were happy enough with what they saw.
Voice Verdict: 7/10 (reviewed at Boston Savoy)
+ Imaginative casting and fresh ideas
+ Strong characters and performances
– Does drag a little
Boston’s West End Cinema (Fri, Jan 31 to Thurs, Feb 6)
10am (Sun), 12.30pm (Sun), 2.50pm (Sat/Sun), 5.30pm (Sat)
BAD BOYS FOR LIFE (15)
2.30pm (Sat), 5.30pm (daily), 8.30pm (not Tues)
2.45pm (Sun), 3.20pm (daily), 6pm (daily), 8.40pm (daily)
THE GRUDGE (15)
3pm (Fri), 8.45pm (daily)
PLAYING WITH FIRE (PG)
SPIES IN DISGUISE (PG)
LITTLE WOMEN (U)
3pm (not Sat/Sun), 5.30pm (Fri)
FROZEN 2 2D (PG)
JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL (12A) 2D
PAW PATROL READY RACE RESCUE (U)
10am (Sat/Sun/Wed), 11.15am (Sun), 11.30am (Sat/Sun/Wed), 12.30pm (Sun), 1pm (Sat/Wed)
THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF DAVID COPPERFIELD (PG)
3pm (not Sat/Sun), 6pm (not Mon)
The Lion King 2019 (PG) – 10.15am (Sat/Sun)
David Copperfield (PG) – 11.30am (Wed)
PARENT AND BABY
David Copperfield (PG) – 10am (Wed)
David Copperfield (PG) – 6pm (Mon)