“In Armando Iannucci‘s color-blind The Personal History of David Copperfield (Searchlight, 8.28), we’re supposed to believe that in 19th Century London. a time of great racism and diminishing returns for anyone who wasn’t white, Dev Patel’s tramp could rise from impoverished orphan to hot-as-shit Victorian writer in the blink-of-an-eye.
“The book’s original questioning of Victorian values and general social attitudes have been largely sidelined for a conventional rise-and-fall story, albeit beautifully shot in wide lens by Zac Nicholson.
“Of course, complaining about the mid-1800s story not having a white Anglo European lead might irk some the wrong way. I don’t mean to imply inclusive casting is a bad thing. Indeed, it’s become one of the most important and revelatory movements in the film industry this century. But letting bygones be bygones, Charles Dickens’ original vision when he released ‘David Copperfield,’ that of the social class struggles in Victorian England, does appear to be delivered in historically naive fashion in the hands by Iannucci.
“Patel’s casting is nonetheless odd as the film never even asks us to question his lineage, despite his parents being as white as can be on both sides.” — from Jordan Ruimy’s 8.25 review (“Inclusive Take On Dickens’ Classic Tale Rings Hollow”).