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Bring a Baby: The Personal History of David Copperfield

Armando Iannucci

Director Armando Iannucci (The Death of Stalin) brings his sardonic wit and a stellar cast-that includes Dev Patel, Tilda Swinton, Hugh Laurie, Gwendoline Christie, Peter Capaldi, and Ben Whishaw – to Charles Dickens' classic autobiographical novel David Copperfield. Tracking its hero's zig-zag destiny, this is a gloriously entertaining journey through 19th century England.

"A gloriously entertaining journey through 19th century England."

Born six months after the death of his father, David (Dev Patel) is lucky to be raised by a loving mother. But when Mum weds the dour Edward Murdstone, David is shippedoff to the cottage (actually a capsized boat) of his housekeeper's family. These peculiar accommodations prove to be only the first of David's numerous temporary abodes, which include an oppressive boarding school and the home of his eccentric aunt Betsey Trotwood (a terrific Tilda Swinton). Wherever David goes, whether living in poverty or comfort, he writes pithy impressions of all those he encounters, impressions that will one day constitute his autobiography.

With its refreshing casting and ceaseless visual surprises – walls literally fall away to make room for flashbacks – Iannucci and his co-screenwriter Simon Blackwell transpose their literary source material into a decidedly 21st century cinematic context. This is a fast-paced film full of energy, wit and scathing commentary but one that never loses sight of Dicken’s central ideas: that great art is born of great experience, and one's true fortune can be measured in friends.