Sweet Dickens, I did not like THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF DAVID COPPERFIELD. And I don’t know why. Oh wait…yes I do. I’m tired of Charles Dickens adaptations. I’ve seen them all and no matter how many times you do a twist on this or….God forbid…A Christmas Carol..which has been done twice as many times…it still comes out too similar to the other adaptations. Too many copies with only slight twists that doesn’t justify their existence. IMDB called this version “A modern take on Charles Dickens’s classic tale of a young orphan who is able to triumph over many obstacles.” The only thing that is modern about this one is that David isn’t white and some of the other characters aren’t white as well. It doesn’t take place in modern day. If they would’ve done both…that might’ve been interesting to see, something way different than what we’ve gotten before. Instead, it’s just Dev Patel as the title character and while is performance is extraordinary great (I’ve been a big fan of his ever since Slumdog Millionaire), the rest is still the same, albeit with more frantic energy to try and not put its audience to sleep. Well, I still almost fell asleep about 4 times (and I had a two hour nap earlier in the afternoon) and while writer/director Armando Iannucci does his best to put a little more pep in the movies’ step by adding some finely timed British humor (and some not finely timed), the film literally added nothing new to get me invested in a story which I’ve read before twice, and I’ve seen in countless other adaptations.
If you’ve never read Charles Dickens’ classic novel and have never seen an adaptation of David Copperfield, I suggest just reading the book and skip all other adaptations. The book is quite something. The movie adaptations, for me, fail to bring any emotional context from Dickens’ words from the page to the screen. While this was a more comedic version of the tale, I merely laughed only once at the very beginning of the film, and didn’t do so until the end credits, as it was more of a relief laugh that the 2 hours was over and I could go home. The reason I saw this in a theater is because I’ve seen everything else already because of this fucking stupid pandemic and it was the only thing left that I hadn’t. I love going to the theater, fuck all of you that are too scared too, unless you know someone that is immune compromised or you yourself are immune compromised. That’s the only two ways I’ll give you mercy if you ever reveal to me that you didn’t go to the theater until there was a vaccine. Otherwise, fuck you. Yeah I said it. I’m going off into a side rant because I really don’t want to talk about this movie anymore, it was THAT boring. And writer/director Armando Iannucci is known for creating and being the show runner on VEEP for most of its run. VEEP is a comedic masterpiece. He left before the last or last two seasons and made The Death of Stalin movie (which I haven’t seen but after this don’t want to), this, and the first season of Avenue 5…which was only okay.
I don’t think he can ever top Veep. Maybe he should’ve stuck with it until the end? It’s like lightening in a bottle for him, which I feel sad if it ends up being so. Everybody does a great job acting in this for sure, but there are some ill timed British humor moments that didn’t work for me (especially when Copperfield gets some bad news about his mother) and the film tries to speed through Copperfield’s life when it needed its time to breathe to be a completely faithful adaptation. This film could be nominated for three Oscar’s and I wouldn’t blink an eye and wouldn’t protest it. It could be nominated for Costumes (duh)…a Lead Acting nomination for Patel (only maybe though, depends what comes out the rest of the year)…but most deserved would be a nomination for Best Production Design. Some of the shots in this movie are absolutely gorgeous with its attention to detail with buildings around the characters and the many sets of the interior in places. Very intricate and well done, and that’s the only high praise you’ll hear out of me regarding this movie other than Patel’s solid acting. The rest was just the same slog I’ve seen before, only that this time the movie actually almost put me to sleep, which I haven’t been almost put to sleep in a theater in quite some time. This is definitely not one of the worst pictures of the year though, far from it. This movie was made with care and you can tell there was no slacking in production. It’s just that I didn’t care for it, plain and simple. David Copperfield’s personal history has been shown too many times, and doesn’t need to do so ever again. If one needs a reminder, don’t be lazy, and just pick up a fucking book.