A young orphan befriends and interacts with a number of
interesting characters as he recounts his life story to an audience.
The Personal History
I'd like to preface this review by saying that I have never read Charles Dickens' David Copperfield, nor have I seen any adaptation apart from this one here. I was unfamiliar with this story prior to seeing this movie. Now that that's out of the way, I can tell you that Armando Iannucci's take on the Dickensian drama is witty, charming, and just the injection of optimism the cinematic world needs right now. Iannucci has always been a master of satire and wit, and with this film, he takes what many may consider to be a "boring" story and makes it hilarious. But I think the smartest thing about this film is the colorblind casting. He has an entire rainbow of actors portraying mothers and sons, fathers and daughters, and race never comes into play. It's a brilliant decision that more directors should implement.
The hero of our story is David Copperfield (Patel, in a fantastic performance), who recounts his life story from a young man sent away by an awful stepfather to living with his eccentric aunt in the countryside. It's an entertaining and delightfully British romp through Victorian England's most bizarre characters. And the cast is superb, from the always reliable Peter Capaldi's kindly beggar Mr. Micawber to Hugh Laurie's mentally ill Mr. Dick, who believes he is haunted by the thoughts of Charles II. I can't say if any of this is accurate to the novel, but it makes for a quirky little movie that made me smile more than once.
The Personal History of David Copperfield is a fun, enjoyable movie that will take you away from the current state of the world, if only for just a little while. It gives you hope that things will work out because you've always got someone to count on when things get dark. It reminds you that all of us are the heroes of our own story, especially when we don't want to be.