The Personal History of David Copperfield (PG, 112 Minutes)
As preachy as the writer side of me likes to be on literature, it cannot be said that my experience with Charles Dickens has been explorative. With the exception of Christmas to boost the obvious favourites, my knowledge of the author stretches little further than a baby-faced Oliver Reed asking us the impossible question of “who will buy this wonderful morning!?” and Jacob Marley in a doorknob chastising Scrooge for ‘humbug’.
But if you place the author’s eighth novel ‘David Copperfield’ under the sublime direction of Armando Iannucci, you’re bound to have a hit. And wow, oh wow is that the case here.
David Copperfield climbs his way up the social ladder of Victorian England, encountering many comical faces, friends and enemies along his way including his donkey-phobic Aunt Betsey (Tilda Swinton), bubbly Mr. Dick (Hugh Laurie) and the optimistic, yet slightly crooked Mr. Micawber (Peter Capaldi). The tale is semi-autobiographical of Dickens’ experience as a young man.
This film is incredibly comical, true to Iannucci’s auteur style. A significant level of trust has been granted to the actors in crafting their own interpretations of these historic characters, done with such an exceptional amount of wit and class in testament to the director’s rib-tickling work with ‘The Thick of It’ and ‘The Death of Stalin’.
Hilarity never runs dry here. Comic timing is key, something Iannucci and his band of actors have mastered through years of hard graft. It’s not an easy thing to get right onve, let alone this far down the line.
Cast, script and direction are in perfect symmetry – certainly something you can’t say for a lot of films today. Well, maybe that’s because David Copperfield is very unlike other films. It’s a tale of the wonderfully uplifting nature of relationships, or more prominently, family over the doom and gloom of our problematic modern world.
Through the wacky adventures, and worrying misfortunes that Copperfield encounters along his journey, it’s an interesting experience to find comfort in the similarities you may relate with your own adventures.
This is one jolly old hoot you definitely don’t want to miss.