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The Personal History of David Copperfield

From rags to riches... and back again

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“A buoyant and incredibly funny crowd-pleaser… impossible to resist”
Benjamin Lee, The Guardian             

Armando Iannucci is not known for conventional period drama, but he is a magnificent director of satire (The Death of Stalin; tv's 'Veep' and 'The Thick of It'), which is why he mainly triumphs bringing the tragi-comic David Copperfield to the screen.

The Charles Dickens bildungsroman is considered the author’s most autobiographic as it follows its protagonist’s rise from an impoverished childhood, while introducing such canonical characters as the debtor Mr. Micawber (based on Dickens’ own father) and the obsequious Uriah Heep. Iannucci hits hard on that autobiographical trope, framing the action with scenes of a figure more Dickens than Copperfield reading his stories to a theatre audience, and peppering the screen with the character’s scribbled observations of colorful metaphors or odd behaviours.

The meta-fiction may be overdone, but that and the director’s feeling for tone create the expansive atmosphere in which a talented multiracial cast lead by Dev Patel can master everything from pure melodrama to high comedy. The delicious performances include Tilda Swinton as the angular Betsey Trotwood, Hugh Laurie as the crazed Mr. Dick and Ben Whishaw as the conniving Heep.

– Kate Taylor, The Globe and Mail

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