The Beach House (2020) | SHUDDER
A real mixed bag going into this one.
Dickens adaptation? No thank you. Dev Patel? Yes please. British humour? Sometimes. Colour blind casting? I’m interested. UK release date before the US? Okay, I’m sold.
Armando Iannucci is known for his TV shows, but given a big screen budget he shows he knows his way around a film. This is no traditional Dickens adaptation, and Iannucci weaves modernity throughout whilst also keeping a foot in traditional theatrics. There are so many lovely shots, sweeping moments and the transitions between scenes and storyline. Whether it’s the backdrops literally blowing away or giant hands crushing David’s dreams, the whimsy and magic is never too far from sight and helps to highlight the lunacy of the film.
Well, those who know Copperfield might be ok with this, but I found it beyond tiresome. David Copperfield is born, has a wonderful childhood until a stepfather turns up, is sent to work in London, and goes on a series of misadventures into his adulthood. I found the plot rambly, irritating, way too long, and I found myself internally screaming “pick a lane!” I feel this has a lot more to do with Charles Dickens than Simon Blackwell’s screenplay though, which tries hard to modernise an old story. The jokes are funny and the lines witty, but just way too much for me.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
What a wonderful ensemble of characters. By running with colour blind casting, the best people for the role are in place and it’s a zany group of well known British faces, be it from TV or film. Hugh Laurie and Peter Capaldi were a bit too similar for my taste, but again I blame the original source text. They are however both having a whale of a time, and watching Laurie’s Mr Dick run his kite with joy did put a smile on my face. There’s not a bad egg in the cast, but I have to say I was beyond charmed with young David, played by newcomer Ranveer Jaiswal. He easily fit in to scenes with Capaldi and Gwendoline Christie as wicked step-aunt. Sticking with us for the first act, he was a pleasure to see on film, and whilst Patel is definitely the lead, he’s lucky to not be outshone by his new mini me.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
A Mixed Bag Of Lunacy...
As mentioned, the visual effects used to transition between scenes are spectacular, and I’d be interested to learn what parts were visual vs practical effects. The costumes and design are equally strong; costume designers have mixed traditional tailoring with modern colours to create a fun and frisky feel.
The Personal History Of David Copperfield (2020) | IN CINEMAS
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Nothing bad, but nothing too exciting either. The score is nice and flows throughout, with the particular sequence of David walking to Dover sticking out in my mind.
The technical details within the film are amazing, and I’d be interested to follow more on Iannucci’s work. He’s managed to assemble a brilliant cast of some of the UK’s funniest comedians, and I found myself laughing multiple times during the first half. It’s unfortunate then that by the end of the film I was desperate for it to end, as it just kept going. With so many storylines and characters weaved in and out, I found myself becoming irritated with the film. I can understand why many wouldn’t want to cut up a classic Dickens text, but the heavy weight of plot really hindered this film for me. It’s not one to avoid, but I definitely wouldn’t be seeking it out again.