20 June 2024

Film Review – Mr. Malcolm’s List (2022)

Dating at any time is a hard, crushing endeavour especially if you are single and looking for love in any shape or form, but with the invention of social media and the plentiful apps now available to all, it has been made something akin to a sport with the “winner” taking the spoils and the “losers” having to start the terrible search all over again. Of course, many still hold on to the hope of the meet-cute scenario seen only in the movies but life has changed and with the influx of online methods, we naturally have to make decisions and even lists to describe ourselves and open up about what we want from a partner or friend. It’s a natural part of the process now, but why should that be seen as a bad or heartless thing? Well, in Emma Holly Jones’ adaptation of Suzanne Allain’s book, they look at just that, only through a sumptuous 19th-century lens.

Beginning in the early 1800s, we meet best friends Julia (Zawe Ashton) and Selina (Freida Pinto) who have been separated for many years until a strange situation compels Julia to ask her back into her life. Julia, you see, has eyes for the titular Mr. Jeremy Malcolm (Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù), one of the richest men in town and one of its most in-demand bachelors. He sees no future for the pair after a night at the opera and it soon comes to light that he has a secret list that breaks down what he is looking for in a bride. Julia, feeling scorned, concocts a revenge scheme: use Selina to lure Malcolm by ticking all the boxes on his list and entrap him in a falsehood of her own. However, when love is involved, everything isn’t always what it seems.

There has been a recent influx of period stories that have tickled audiences’ fancies, almost becoming their own quasi-interconnected universe and primarily based on the success of Bridgerton and Downton Abbey (both very different, of course), but what those settings have allowed filmmakers to do is explore the strangely similar aspects of life that have been reflected in modern society, especially when it comes to love and romance, much of which has very interesting echoes. What sets Jones’ film apart from the others that have tried to conjure up such narratives up (see the recently misjudged and lukewarm Persuasion) is both in its characters and in its frivolity: there’s a witty, piercing satire to it all that, while it’s serious in its explorations of love, desires, and our natural instincts to create barriers early in relationships, it’s also a marvellous romp through the inner madness that is dating, then and now.

Expertly designed and brimming with luscious, exquisite surroundings, it’s hard not to be truly intoxicated by its splendour and its ensemble. That it’s a shade on the long side is somewhat to its detriment but it’s still a wonderfully spiffing time, propelled by Dirisu and Ashton’s splendid turns at the head of the ensemble, with Theo James and a madcap Oliver Jackson-Cohen only pulling the carriage of wit further forward. Strangely, it’s Pinto who is something of the odd one out here. She’s perfectly charming and has decent chemistry with Dirisu, but she lags behind the rest somewhat and feels a little miscast despite those her best efforts.

★★★


Drama, Comedy | 2022 | Vertigo Releasing, Universal Pictures | Theatrical | Dir: Emma Holly Jones | Zawe Ashton, Freida Pinto, Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù, Theo James, Oliver Jackson-Cohen


Discover more from

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.

Did you enjoy? Agree Or Disagree? Leave A Comment

Discover more from

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading