The Personal History of David Copperfield (2019) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
313 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
Not David Copperfield
dt-9314 February 2021
To those who love this book, please stay away from this loose adaptation. I'm not against putting your own spin on a piece of literature, but when you lose sight of the soul of the source material, I have no interest. A truly excellent cast is wasted on this directors self-indulgent production. This is not David Copperfield. If you feel the need to tell whatever story this thing is, please do it under another name.
50 out of 75 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Creative, quirky, comfortable classic
extreme_weasel27 August 2020
This is not a straight forward movie experience. It combines elements of live theater with classic farce, woven together with an obvious love for the source material.

Cinematography, editing, score, and set and costuming attention to detail conjure a believably pre-industrial London. We see the world first through the eyes of a boy ingenu, which lends to the slightly fantastic.

It smoothly transitions through 'highlights' of the book, without being too thin or fleeting. The creators have consciously chosen to lean into the comedic aspects of events, while still giving weight where appropriate.

Performances are perfectly tuned to the array of idiosyncratic characters. None of the actors outshine the others - a true ensemble. And it is an extra pleasure to see Hugh Laurie and Peter Capaldi in scenes together.

It evolves through episodes which tie together beautifully in the conclusion, especially with the final line.

The end credits retain the style and are a pleasing conclusion.

Now, one of my favorite films.
96 out of 154 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Surprisingly enjoyable
anthonlewis1 April 2021
I wasn't sure what to expect but ended up being delighted by the creativity and ambition. Add in first class acting and photography and you have two hours of cinematic enjoyment.
29 out of 43 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Good visuals but otherwise a very disappointing experience.
wentworthstreet29 January 2020
I am not quite sure how he managed to do it, but Director Armando Iannucci has succeeded in turning a classic story, with an excellent cast, into an incredibly dull movie.

Save your hard earned money and see something else.
194 out of 344 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Another Piece of Narcissistic Revisionist Drivel
SCWC5IL13 October 2020
Let's take a movie set in 1800s India, replace the main Indian characters with white people and black people and tell me how it goes over.
61 out of 101 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
pjsharp-8608927 January 2020
I watched this with 200+ other people. I was looking forward to it immensely. I stayed to the end though, only because I was blocked in by my neighbours... honestly this film is pointless. Little story progression, pantomime acting, sub- Month Python comedy characters and voices. If you want to pay £10 to watch Horrible Histories do The Fast Show, with cardboard cut out backdrops - you will adore this. No spoiler but - Please somebody explain why shouting 'no donkeys' to passers by is funny, worst film I have seen and biggest disappointment for a long long time
189 out of 343 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A delightfully offbeat adaptation
afwlegs24 January 2020
I don't know why so many people have been so negative about this film. I set up this account specifically to give my two pence to this vibrant rendition!

Giving such a dark story humour was admittedly a controversial move, but it paid off in my opinion. Every role in the film resonates with character, and the eccentricity balances the drama well.

My favourite part was the passionate, progressive score by Christopher Willis. Go listen to The Pages Must Show. Now!
125 out of 224 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Sorry not for me
JLC240927 January 2020
Weird, ridiculous. I didn't recognise the Dickens' story apart from the inclusion of some of the characters. Three stars for the actors and their characterisations; none for the script or story. It's supposed to be a comedy but there was no laughter in the cinema in fact some people walked out half way through. I was tempted but thought it must get better; it didn't!
167 out of 306 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Brilliant performances all around and the film is a welcome escape from the current lack of whimsy in the world.
thisisthemotherhood11 August 2020
Dev Patel carries the role of David Copperfield gracefully and naturally. He meets many characters along the way that vividly come to life on screen in ways that make you feel as though you are reading the descriptions as they unfolded on the page. They are almost caricatures in a very whimsical and delightful way. The rollercoaster that takes David from being the only son of a widow to the discarded baggage of a new marriage also makes him the guest in an overwhelmingly loving (yet constantly indebted) family. The ride continues as he becomes a young man on the run and on his fresh start as a gentleman with a past and then finally landing as a man in love with a girl who is out of place in his story.

Though we are introduced to a wonderful array of supporting characters who help David on his long and winding journey, we do not get to spend enough time getting to know them because of the fast pace of the film. We feel his connection to them based on all of the great performances, however, it is tough to stay connected to them on the other side of the lens as the pace through situations races ahead. The third act of the film is where it is felt the most. As all of the characters come together for a very satisfying ending, it would have been nice to have more time with the characters as they enjoy the spoils of ride they took together.

In the end, this is a redemption story about a very interesting character and his extraordinarily interesting life. David and his engaging journey have every element needed to go from whimsical to scary to revenge filled and eventually a satisfying conclusion. I would definitely recommend it. There are brilliant performances all around and the film is a welcome escape from the current lack of whimsy in the world.
62 out of 106 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Ignore all the thinly veiled reviews
jacobwelby-7438615 June 2020
This is a fun and enjoyable movie. The weird comments by people who can't comprehend a non-white cast are baffling. If you can't enjoy a film because of the colour of actor's skin, that's your problem, not the film's.
140 out of 259 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
The Problem with Rewriting History
jadepietro16 May 2021
IN BRIEF: Overrated period comedy that looks right but is all wrong.

JIM'S REVIEW: (MILDLY RECOMMENDED) Well, I did like the costumes. And the production design, a mishmash of vibrant colors and patterns, was also a delight. (Kudos to Suzie Harman and Robert Worley's unlikely period wardrobe and Cristina Casali's stylish sets) But the film, The Personal History of David Copperfield, was all useless energy and pure nonsense. The film tries to impress with its quirkiness, lavish settings, and hyperactive performances. Figures whose names might seem familiar... Uriah Heep, Mr. Micawber, Betsey Trotwood, Mr. Dick...are strange hybrids of Charles Dicken's more famous characters from his novel. Here, they are thrown together to chronicle the story of the fictional David Copperfield's life. Like a Dicken's novel, characters intersect our hero's coming-of-age journey and add to the pomp although the circumstances are dubious. Unlike a Dicken's novel, in this odd film adaptation, they are shallow, silly, and overstay their welcome.

The film is unevenly directed by Armando Iannucci, who also wrote the screenplay with Simon Blackwell. His movie takes on a surreal quality which impresses in its visual splendor. (Many times while watching this film, I was reminded of Terry Gilliam's dud, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, and we know how that one went.) But script-wise, it's a mess. The plot is contrived, a CliffNotes summary of the book which misses Dicken's clever prose. In this re-imagined film version, everyone plays their roles like live action cartoons without any restraint or comic timing. They become wind-up dolls dressed to the Victorian nines gone amok.

A good cast belabors the comedy. And Mr. Iannucci does assemble many of England's best actors for his movie such as Peter Capaldi, Ben Whishaw, Tilda Swinton, and Hugh Laurie; only the latter two performers hit their marks most of the time with their outlandish interpretations. He waste their time and talents. As the title character, Dev Petel is completely engaging, but he and the integrated ensemble deserve better material. While the casting may be color-blind, the overall vision lacks focus too. The concept of creating Victorian England with a contemporary attitude is intriguing, but never quite gels.

Critics worldwide have raved about this film. And I waited nearly a year with high hopes, only to be disappointed by the end results. The film looks authentic and, production-wise, has many admirable traits, but it is all surface treatment and sleight-of-hand trickery. A earnest effort, I would agree, but the reality is that The Personal History of David Copperfield is epic, as in failure. It's a farce without any laughs that exhausts rather than thrills. Be careful what you wish for. (GRADE: C)
22 out of 34 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Shockingly bad.
johntenneson-4481227 January 2020
So. Try and say something positive. Brilliant costumes. Great acting. That is it. What a dull boring film. A real waste of time going to see this.
155 out of 289 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A lost opportunity
wayne-hillier20 January 2020
One of Dickens greatest comedy-dramas cheapened into a ridiculous slapstic comedy with an unrealistic PC cast that makes no sense in Victorian England. Barely any dialogue or reference to the book. Only serves to make the 1999 TV version even more loved. Almost as bad as last year's Christmas Carol travesty shown on the BBC. Will Dickens ever get respect deserved again on the big screen? Hopefully won't be too long until this story is told properly.
206 out of 390 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Don't believe the haters
minerocksmore13 July 2020
There's a lot of negative reviews about this movie - mainly due to casting of NON-white (black, Asian, Indian) actors in critical roles. If you check the review data though, you'll see that about 75% of total reviews are between 6 and 10 stars. I loved the movie, could have been a little shorter, but that's more about me liking short movies. Wonderful character acting, whimsical story telling. Don't miss this movie!
101 out of 190 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Off target
PipAndSqueak27 January 2020
The set up for this film appears, on the face of it, quite promising. However, there is too much 'wrong' in the execution of it that the final product fails on all fronts. Is it a spoof? A comedy? Historical reconstruction? Ten minutes in and you won't care, you just know you're in for some dull stuff that isn't bad enough for you to walk out. Besides, you want to see what your rated actors are going to do with this lemon. Not a lot as it turns out. If only this enterprise had been taken the next step, that is, turned into a proper pantomime, then we would have laughed, appreciated the pratfalls, slapstick and other tricks that fall flat in straight film making. TV trash. Nothing more.
86 out of 160 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Too much box ticking
Sallyprice7618 October 2020
There is a time and a place for casting people for parts, it's seems to have got out of control just to please people rather than stick to the historical truth incase that offends. It's getting beyond silly now
32 out of 54 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A delightful oddity
themadmovieman25 January 2020
Eccentric in every sense of the word, director Armando Iannucci offers up a delightful oddity in the form of his offbeat adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic novel. It's funny, charming and heartfelt all the way through, and while it may lack the biting satire and charisma of Iannucci's best works, there's no denying how enjoyably strange this film is.

First things first, this film isn't a straight adaptation of The Personal History Of David Copperfield, but nor does it intend to be. It follows the original story as closely as it can, providing an engrossing coming-of-age tale of rags to riches that soars with the inspiring drama of Dickens' story, but the film stands on its own two legs with its delightfully offbeat persona.

Because, rather than simply recounting the classic tale as a costume drama for the umpteenth time, this film tries to do something a little different, still paying homage to the original story but having some fun with tongue-in-cheek humour and modern sensibilities all the way through.

In that, the movie is wonderfully fast-paced, zipping and zapping with zany energy to and fro as it flies through David Copperfield's upbringing and chaotic ups and downs between nobility and poverty. Furthered by energetic directing and performances, as well as editing that features the slightest hints of breaking the fourth wall, the film establishes itself right from the start as a feverishly eccentric watch.

And that's where the real joy of watching The Personal History Of David Copperfield comes from. It's not just another costume drama (although the costumes and sets look gorgeous), but a rapid-fire comedy of errors that will have you rolling around in your chair laughing right the way through.

Admittedly, not every joke lands perfectly, but the film is so jam-packed with laughter and energy that you'll find yourself consistently entertained, only bolstered by those tongue-in-cheek winks and nods such as the fourth wall breaks and colour-blind casting that only add to the brilliant eccentricity of it all.

But even with so much zany energy at play, the film manages to spend time to develop its drama in a heartfelt and engaging manner. Brilliantly linking up the story's more inspiring emotional themes with the charming nature of the comedy, The Personal History Of David Copperfield is an effortlessly lovable watch, both in its laughs as well as its soaring heart of gold.

From a genuinely wonderful lead performance by Dev Patel to standout supporting turns from Tilda Swinton, Hugh Laurie, Peter Capaldi, Daisy May Cooper, Benedict Wong and Ben Whishaw, the film uses its A-list cast to fantastic effect, all brought together under the roof of delightful hilarity by director Armando Iannucci, who keeps a potentially chaotic comedy of errors running smoothly all the way through.

The one caveat of the film is that it doesn't quite match up to Iannucci's best works of the past simply because it lacks a more biting satire. Of course, there's perhaps less political and social mockery to play with in a Charles Dickens adaptation compared to In The Loop and The Death Of Stalin, but it feels like this film tries to bring some in with its assessment on the class divide and the plight of poverty, albeit never quite hitting the mark.

Saying that, however, The Personal History Of David Copperfield is an utter delight. It's wonderfully strange, complete with rapid-fire and zany energy that complements an eccentric atmosphere and a charismatic cast, only furthered by an engaging and heartfelt story that's brought to life by hilarious comedy all the way through.
58 out of 105 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Goofy casting
dslatermusic4 September 2020
This movie is so bad we left in the middle of it. The director is trying to force nonsensical casting choices to push a goofy PC agenda and it's a huge distraction which ruins the story. They've butchered a classic work of literature. Yuck.
27 out of 45 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
roger.armstrong6 February 2020
As an avid Dickens reader, and watcher of both film, and TV adaptations going back almost 60 years, I have a strong familiarity with, and affinity for, his works. I am aware that opinions vary and taste is very much an individual thing. Leaving the cinema today, a couple I spoke to were of mixed opinions and felt it was too long. They liked "1917", I did not - opinion is very personal. I loved it, found it extremely funny at points and got the essence of the book in a most accessible way. I must also admit to loving "Dickensian", and " A Christmas Carol" more recently and this felt to be very much in the same vein. More like this please.
54 out of 98 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
I wonder...
maik43425 March 2021
I wonder what it would look like to you, a film about the life of Muhammad Ali, starring a white actor ...
29 out of 49 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Disappointingly underwhelming...
CinemaSerf16 November 2019
I'm not Armando Iannucci's biggest fan so saw this at the Opening Gala of the London Film Festival with some trepidation. Unfortunately, I wasn't pleasantly surprised. Dev Patel does bring some charm to the proceedings, but the attempts at comedy in this retelling of Dickens' classic just don't work for me at all. Ben Whishaw and Tilda Swinton appear to be fish out of water and whilst it is good to see Hugh Laurie back on the big screen it all comes across as a bit of a hotch-potch of ideas and aspirations. The book's original questioning of Victorian values around child exploitation and of more general social attitudes seem to have been largely sidelined, robbing the story of much of it's heart and soul. It is also quite unnecessarily lengthy at just shy of two hours. As you'd expect, it is a good film to look at, featuring some very picturesque East Anglian villages that probably haven't changed anything like as much as this story from the days of Charles Dickens himself.
113 out of 219 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
A fun new take on a classic Dickens tale
eddie_baggins12 July 2020
Scottish director Armando Iannucci isn't the first name that springs to mind when one thinks of a director of Charles Dickens novels but the famed comedic filmmaker makes for a refreshing behind camera master of this more modern take on Dicken's semi-autobiographical tale.

Renowned for some of the modern era's greatest politically astute comedies in the form of In the Loop and The Death of Stalin, as well as extensive work on hit TV show Veep, Iannucci dials things back quite a bit here without ever losing sight of the oddball humor that has made his career so enjoyable, as we follow Dev Patel's kind hearted David Copperfield across a multi-year journey of trials and tribulations as he tries to find his way in a world that seems intent on knocking him down.

Not following any particular one plot thread, the film takes on board Copperfield's experience's being raised by Peter Capaldi's money waster Mr Micawber, his teenage years education and most importantly his life-defining relationship with Tilda Swinton's oddball aunt Betsey Trotwood and her mentally unhinged friend Mr. Dick, played wonderfully by Hugh Laurie.

There's a lot to cram into History's two hour run-time, one that Iannucci at times struggles to balance out, with the films later stages in particular feeling as though they could've had more time to breath but overall the film remains an entertaining and enthusiastic rendition of a story that has stood the test of time.

Front and centre throughout are some fantastic production values to this independent film, duly noted in the films large collection of nominations at last years British Independent Film Awards and another great lead performance from Dev Patel, who much like his fellow Skins graduate Nicholas Hoult has proven time and time again that his one of the most assured performers working today.

Patel's infectiously enjoyable performance is a genuine example of a film that is having a lot of fun with its narrative and one were the cast and crew clearly had a ball bringing it to life, while its likely to divide die-hard Dicken's fans, its great to see a director of Iannucci's skill-set tackle such a task.

Final Say -

It may not be quite up to the high-standards of the best Dicken's features but The Personal History of David Copperfield is a joyous little film with a lot of heart and a killer on-song cast to boot.

3 1/2 heavy cakes out of 5
45 out of 81 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
chloe-381263 October 2019
It made my heart full. I found David Copperfield (Dev Patel) to be incredibly moving and I love the way every character is treated with some measure of compassion. It was also brilliant to see Peter Capaldi and Hugh Laurie on a screen again. It made me want to read the book.
118 out of 233 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Pointless and boring
kgb-3514 October 2020
And a triumph of Political Correctness over Historical Correctness. Which would be OK if only it wasn't so tedious.

Stay away.
30 out of 52 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
imdb-4369227 September 2020
My wife and I were looking forward to watching this. We were both highly disappointed. Instead of using the classic story they attempt to produce a circus show. No time spent on development of the characters which is a key part of any Dickens. So much was bad but to highlight the worst, David was portrayed as an idiot, Mr Micawber was a lousy attempt at a cockney accent with his famous quotation left out or lost in an abuse of extraneous sound. Not worth writing any more it is so bad.
12 out of 18 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews

Recently Viewed