Apple TV Review – The Personal History of David Copperfield

The latest movie by IN THE LOOP slash VEEP slash THE DEATH OF STALIN filmmaker Armando Iannucci, THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF DAVID COPPERFIELD is a very light-hearted and modern take on the old Charles Dickens classic, this time focusing on the early years of the title character, here played by Dev Patel as we experience his entire difficult upbringing all over London and surrounding towns in 19th century England. Many ups and downs featuring family troubles and finding not only love but himself in a difficult time. 

Nearly overstuffed with some of the finest British and European talent working today, COPPERFIELD is led by Dev Patel in a truly outstanding performance as our title character. With a combination of physical comedy and charm, he really balances himself well the likes of Peter Capaldi, Tilda Swinton, Huge Laurie and many others. One of my favourite supporting performances comes from young Morfydd Clark (also the star of the yet-to-be-released SAINT MAUD) who plays two roles; both David’s mother in the early childhood scenes, and later as a love interest to David. Both roles show an incredible range from the actress and she is one to keep an eye on. 

What may surprise some Iannucci fans is that his penchant for absurdist humour is toned down here, and while there are more serious undertones here at times, there is still a more aloof and fun vibe than other costume dramas of the like. This will still very much satisfy Iannucci and Dickens fans alike. 

About the Apple TV release: 

COPPERFIELD is lovingly presented in 4k Dolby Vision with HDR on Apple TV (aka iTunes Movies). My first viewing of the movie was at the Toronto International Film Festival at a press & industry screening in their IMAX theater, so immediately the image jumped out to me when I first saw it, and the detail is very much held over in this ultra high definition release. The soundtrack, which I screened in Dolby 5.1, is pretty quiet at times and front-heavy with limited surround effects, but balances out the image well for a nice presentation on home video. 

The main extra is a solid one; a multi-chaptered “Making Of” documentary running about 25 minutes featuring lots of filmmaker and cast interviews and behind the scenes footage. This doc is much more solid than other “making of” ones I have viewed as of late and is a really nice way to learn about the feature after watching it. 

Overall, THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF DAVID COPPERFIELD is a total delight from start to finish; a slightly modernized but hilarious take on the Dickens classic that will mostly have you laughing at all of the antics.


THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF DAVID COPPERFIELD is now on Apple TV/iTunes along with other digital services. We at Get Reel Movies highly recommend an Apple TV box!

Many thanks to Disney PR for sending along a digital copy for review. 

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