Movie review: ‘Mr. Malcolm’s List’ may be predictable, but it’s still a delight

If you’re a fan of period dramas, you can probably guess – even before you walk into the theater – how the movie Mr. Malcolm’s List is going to end. 

The film stars Sope Dirisu as Jeremy Malcolm, one of the most eligible bachelors in Regency-era London. He’s looking for a wife and maintains a list of strict requirements this as-yet unidentified “perfect woman” must meet. 

After being spurned by Mr. Malcolm, Julia Thistlewaite (Zawe Ashton) decides to get revenge. She and her cousin Lord Cassidy (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) hatch a plan to present Julia’s friend from the country – Selina Dalton (Freida Pinto) – as the perfect woman, only to have Selina inform Mr. Malcolm that he does not meet her list of qualifications. 

Naturally, complications ensue, as Selina learns Mr. Malcolm is a more nuanced person than society would have her believe. She finds herself actually falling in love with him, which brings her into conflict with her friend Julia, who still wants her revenge. 

It’s not really a spoiler to reveal that this story has a “happily ever after” and everything works out for all of the characters. Despite the predictable plot, this film is very well acted with gorgeous costumes and set designs. It’s a delightful blend of Jane Austen and Bridgerton, and I enjoyed seeing it on the big screen. 

One of the most exciting trends in period dramas of late is that the cast of these films is no longer just made up of actors who are white. As a huge fan of Jane Austen style storytelling, I think anyone should be able to star in these historical fairy tale films. 

I don’t really have a lot else to add about this movie, because it basically sells itself. If you enjoy films like Pride and Prejudice or the Netflix series Bridgerton, you’ll love this movie. If these types of stories aren’t your cup of tea, that’s fine too. As someone who loves this genre, Mr. Malcolm’s List is a worthy addition and I can’t wait to watch it again. 

Also, something interesting I discovered after seeing this film is that it started as a self-published novel by Suzanne Allain and then was made into a short film in 2019. I always love hearing about projects that take less traditional paths to success, and I can’t imagine how excited the author is to see a full-length adaptation of her work.

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