‘Mr. Malcolm’s List’ Review: A Flavorful Period Piece

The year was 1818, and the most eligible bachelor was Jeremy Malcolm (Sope Dirisu). His maternal aunt left him a country estate and a sizeable fortune. As the film begins, he’s seen at the opera with a woman named Julia Thistlewaite (Zawe Ashton), who he found to be quite the bore. After her eventual dismissal, she quickly discovers that Mr. Malcolm has a list of requirements for a wife and holds to them steadfastly. Hot for revenge, Julia tricks her cousin Selina (Freida Pinto), who lives in the country and is seen as a lower citizen, to visit London and assist in wreaking her vengeance.

Freida Pinto stars as “Selina Dalton” and Zawe Ashton stars as “Julia Thistlewaite” in director Emma Holly Jones’ MR. MALCOLM’S LIST, a Bleecker Street release. Credit: Ross Ferguson

Following the trend that Netflix’s Bridgerton started, Hollywood is slowly figuring out that this new generation of cinephiles wants to see diversity. Most often, period pieces are bland in casting and any person of color is a lower-class citizen or a helper. Here, we have a wealthy Black bachelor who seeks the attention of an Indian woman, who eventually reveals her Asian cousin, in the middle of London in 1818. Since these types of stories are indeed fictional, it’s great to see creators go a lot heavier on the fictional aspect.

The supporting cast was a delight. Captain Henry (Theo James) and Lord Cassidy (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) shared enough personality and humor to make matters light when needed, but firm with their delivery of serious matters.

Oliver Jackson-Cohen stars as “Lord Cassidy” and Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù stars as “Mr. Malcolm” in director Emma Holly Jones’ MR. MALCOLM’S LIST, a Bleecker Street release. Credit: Ross Ferguson / Bleecker Street

The story really focuses on the utmost importance of finding a suitor. There was enough classism to feel like a true English tale and the emphasis on marriage “before it’s too late” started to become comical around mid-way through. With its best efforts, the film still manages to get the job done. A Cinderella story to the core, but with diversity.

Mr. Malcolm’s List gets an 8.5 out of 10. It’s nice to start the holiday weekend with something light and full of love. Although Dirisu and Pinto were delightful to watch, it was the performance by Zawe Ashton that stood out. Love, deceit, and classism await you!

-Jon Jones

Photo: Ross Ferguson / Bleecker Street

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