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Review: The Personal History of David Copperfield

The Personal History of David Copperfield
Photo From Financial Times

Armando Iannucci launched back into cinemas last month with his latest feature, The Personal History of David Copperfield (PHDC). Best known for his political satire with shows such as Veep and The Thick of It and his previous feature The Death of Stalin, to say that I was looking forward to his latest offering would be a huge understatement. Yet, despite being such a huge fan of Iannucci, PHDC just doesn’t manage to hold up to the hilarity of his previous works.

Based on the Charles Dickens novel, the narrative follows the life of David Copperfield (Dev Patel) and the extreme ups and downs of being born into fortune, to only be dropped into poverty before being made rich once more and so forth and so on. As you can maybe tell from this description, the narrative of the film was far from enthralling. Unlike other more recent period dramas, such as The Favourite or Collette, PHDC is not relatable. The characters were hard to identify with and as a result there was a lack of empathy for them.

Despite being funny at times and having interesting set design and unique transitions between scenes the film as a whole was disappointing. This was majorly due to the incredible body of work that proceeded it. If not for knowing that this film was made by Iannucci the film could be seen as being perfectly enjoyable. But knowing the standard that Iannucci is capable of creating can’t not make this latest offering a let-down. A special mention should be given to Hugh Laurie who plays Mr Dick and Daisy May Cooper who plays Peggoty, the only relatable characters in the whole film, who gave brief comedic relief for the few moments that they were on screen.

With all of this said however, I am not a fan of period dramas and so probably don’t fit the desired demographic. If you are someone who enjoys period dramas with a quirky undertone I’m sure you would find this film a nice relaxing evening, nothing too challenging, like sitting down with nice cup of tea.

The Personal History of David Copperfield is Currently Showing at City Screen.