Mr Malcolm’s List

  • 16 Jul - 22 Jul, 2022
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

Based on the romance novel by Suzanne Allain, Mr Malcolm’s List is a witty tale of 19th-century London’s competitive marriage market. If the previous sentence conjures images of Netflix’s Bridgerton, that’s to be expected. Like that regency-era show, Mr Malcolm’s List serves up its gilded rituals and lessons in love and friendship with a multiracial and multicultural showcase. Yet there are elements of Jane Austen there too, as Mr Malcolm’s List leans more satirical than its obvious television counterpoint. And whereas a sultry narrative fuels Bridgerton across its seasons, strong performances from key supporting players are what keep Mr Malcolm’s List engaging.

Only a handful of people can relate to Julia’s situation. Among them is Mr Jeremy Malcolm (Sope Dirisu), a notoriously fastidious bachelor. Rumours about whom he might end up with circulate each season. At the start of the film, the spotlight shines on Julia, whom Mr Malcolm has invited to the opera. The pair make a handsome couple, or so the gossip mill says early into their evening. But tides turn quickly and the favourable opinion sours after Julia misunderstands Mr Malcolm’s question about a hotly debated issue. She thinks the Corn Laws have to do with diets instead of the economic wellbeing of Britain’s farmers. The morning after the frosty date, Julia becomes the subject of cruel mockery across the city.

Mr Malcolm’s rejection and the subsequent backlash spurs Julia to action. She enlists her cousin Lord Cassidy (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) to figure out why Mr Malcolm never called her. And it’s through the diffident lord’s search that a determined Julia finds out about Mr Malcolm’s list of qualities required for his perfect woman – questionable practice to say the least.

Attentive viewers will know what’s about to happen when Julia calls upon her childhood friend Selina (Freida Pinto) to come visit her in London. Selina, who has been writing Julia since they met as schoolgirls at Mrs Finch’s Ladies Academy, is eager to see her friend after all these years. Never mind the uneven nature of their friendship: Selina has dutifully written to Julia over the years, while Julia can barely keep up with the goings-on of her friend’s life.

Selina’s arrival initiates Julia’s plan to give Mr Malcolm his comeuppance. The moment Selina pulls up to Julia’s palatial London manor, she is put to work, training to be Mr Malcolm’s dream woman.