Director Armando Iannucci (In the Loop, The Death of Stalin) delivers his most “cinematic” effort yet with the Dickens adaptation The Personal History of David Copperfield, employing dramatic camera angles from behind wall clocks and point of view shots from David’s infant perspective. As an adult, when he’s played by Dev Patel, “Davey” occasionally breaks the fourth wall, popping in on scenes of his dramatically Dickensian life (parental loss, child abuse, unexpected good fortune). The heightened technique adds busyness to what is already an incredibly rushed narrative (Iannucci and Simon Blackwell adapt the massive novel). This is largely Dickens as farce, which is occasionally fun—Peter Capaldi is a delightful Mr. Micawber, whose creditors are so insistent they try to yank his rug out from under his front door—but it often feels forced. At this pace, the jokes are missing the context they need to really land. (Tilda Swinton showing up as Betsey Trotwood to yell “Donkeys!” won’t mean much unless you’ve read the novel, and even then it feels like Literature 101 fan service.) While this pace also reduces young Copperfield to an object being bounced from scene to scene and character to character, Patel is so effortless, earnest, charming, and gifted as a physical comedian that he nearly saves the thing. That he hasn’t become a huge international star in the 10 years or so since Slumdog Millionaire is a crime against cinema.