Dir: Armando Iannucci, UK/USA, 2020, 119 min. Dev Patel, Hugh Laurie, Tilda Swinton, Ben Whishaw.
Winner of 5 British Independent Film Awards, including Best Screenplay.
“Forget every Charles Dickens screen adaptation you’ve ever seen -Armando Ianucci’s take on David Copperfield is the funniest, freshest, most fulfilling cinematic foray into Victorian England since, maybe, ever. You would be hard-pressed to imagine a more appealing cast – from the top-tier stars to the smallest supporting players - than in this lush, sentimental retelling of Dickens’ ultimate up-from-the-gutter story. Effervescent where previous versions are stodgy; irreverent where others are ponderously deferential to the source material, this is a Copperfield for the 21st Century: energetic, sprightly, and all-embracing… The story involves a young man who, after an appropriately dark Victorian childhood in a British workhouse, finds his way into the home of some wealthy relatives and then forges his own place in the world. Dickens infused a lot of his own life into the story, which makes it perhaps the most engaging of his novels… As the wide-eyed, ever-optimistic title character, Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) has us rooting for him from the moment he appears on screen… Patel makes a perfect Copperfield… Tilda Swinton is adorable (yes, you read that right) as his eccentric aunt. And Hugh Laurie should be Oscar nomination-bound for his performance as David’s perpetually confused but ultimately sharp-as-a-tack uncle… The undisputed all-time master of opening sentences, Dickens starts Copperfield’s narrative with this line: ‘Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.’ True to his source, Iannucci begins his movie with those same words. And as he squeezes every possible laugh from Dickens’ tale while leaving plenty of room for authentic sentiment, Iannucci becomes a hero of sorts himself, boldly throwing open new windows on a story we thought we already knew.” – Bill Newcott, the Saturday Evening Post