The Personal History of David Copperfield (2019)

Directed by Armando Iannucci

A fresh and distinctive take on Charles Dickens’ semi-autobiographical masterpiece, The Personal History of David Copperfield, set in the 1840s, chronicles the life of its iconic title character as he navigates a chaotic world to find his elusive place within it. From his unhappy childhood to the discovery of his gift as a storyteller and writer, David’s journey is by turns hilarious and tragic, but always full of life, colour and humanity.

This movie was rated PG in the United States on account of the "terrified donkeys" and a "terrifying stepfather."


There’s something especially powerful about how the breezy David Copperfield goes out of time. The oppressive fantasy that’s racism is elided and exploded, to the point that it draws that much more attention to Dickens’s timeless themes of class condescension and socioeconomic struggle. [But] the downside is that the degree to which those themes resonate varies from scene to scene and from character to character. […] Up until now, Iannucci has assumed the role of a we’re-all-fucked pessimist, albeit of a blisteringly funny sort. Though it doesn’t lack spiky edges, David Copperfield is the first time Iannucci revels, unexpectedly, in optimism.

Keith Uhlich (Slant Magazine)


It’s still a story that touches on child labour, debtors’ prisons, and other plights of poverty and class, but Iannucci leans into the text’s humor while adding a touch of surreality, turning it into a 19th century bildungsroman by way of Alice in Wonderland.

Alison Willmore (Vulture)


Innucci’s screenplay, co-written with Simon Blackwell, concerns itself with authorship less in a writerly sense than taking ownership of one’s identity. Write your own story, this film seems to say. And it’s a lesson explored not only in the protagonist’s journey to become a writer and his acceptance of himself under the name Copperfield, but it’s also hinted at in Iannucci’s casting choices.

Brian Eggert (Deep Focus Review)