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The Personal History Of David Copperfield Review: Dev Patel’s Performance As The Title Character Of Dickens' Classic Is Very Enthusiastic

The Personal History Of David Copperfield stars Dev Patel, Aneurin Barnard, Peter Capaldi, Morfydd Clark, Daisy May Cooper, among others. Below is the review of the adaptation of Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield.

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The Personal  History  Of David Copperfield Review: Dev Patel’s Performance As The Title Character Of Dickens' Classic Is Very Enthusiastic

Don’t get me wrong. I love the idea of colour blindness that has swept across  American cinema. Cultural inclusiveness is a great concept to bring the world together as one. But there are limits to how much we can pretend that colour doesn’t matter. It does! Which is why there is so much  inequality everywhere.  In  this stylish, slyly witty but finally way too slight and colour-blissed  to be taken seriously, the titlular role of Charles Dicken’s young hero is played a brown actor Dev Patel  who is as  convincing as Copperfield as he was when he played a Sikh in the  26/11 drama Mumbai Hotel. Helmed by  Armando Iannucci,  The Personal  History  Of David Copperfield also stars  Aneurin Barnard, Peter Capaldi, Morfydd Clark, Daisy May Cooper, Rosalind Eleazar, Hugh Laurie, Tilda Swinton, Ben Whishaw, Gwendoline Christie and Paul Whitehouse. 

 Patel’s Copperfield looks like an Asian masquerading as Charles Dickens’ English hero born to a privileged mother(Morfydd Clark, who later  in  the film show up with incestuous  bizarreness as  David  Copperfield’s  love  interest). There is no explanation at all as to why David’s mother is unmistakably  Caucasian while the son looks as brown as the toast she enjoys at  her breakfast every morning.Much later David has a Caucasian  friend James who’s played by Aneurin Barnard and his mother is a Black woman played by  Nikki Amuka-Bird! James’s mother has  an important  role in the impressionable  David’ life.When they are together  I could only see  the film’s producers trying to please as many communities and countries as  possible.  This is Gone  With The Wind with  blizzards  blowing away physical credibility.

 It was very hard for me to concentrate on the characters’ function in the sprawling Victorian coming-of-age saga when the director was way too taken up with converting Charles Dickens’ epic novel into  a cauldron  of  cultural cosmopolitanism.   Let’s look beyond colour  and race  by all means. But not at the cost of a film’s credibility!

 This version of  David Copperfield displays a  distinctive atmospheric flavour,  but little else. The characters are stifled by their cinematic creator’s insouciance, a  creative  aggression  that takes Dickens’   book  by the horns, if you  know what  I mean . The film is  crisp in tone and cockily  non-literary  on  flavour. Though the  novel is here  blissfully  dismantled ,  the essence  of the  original and much of  the story and characters remain.

There is a  fine supporting cast of  British/English actors bustling around in their eye-catching costumes trying to look as eccentrically  Victorian as wine forgotten in a sailor’s cellar.

 Yes. Dickens’ novel has travelled far and wide. It has now reached a place where the author would find it hard to recognize his hero. Dev Patel’s  David Coopperfield is a very enthusiastic performance. It is also very brown.

What next? A revisionist version of Gone With The Wind  with a  White Mammy?

Image Source: Instagram/aneurin.b , IMDb, youtube/searchlightspictures
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