When Julia Thistlewaite (Zawe Ashton) is humiliated over being publicly slighted by the wealthy, honorable Mr. Malcolm (Sope Dirisu), she enlists her cousin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) and childhood friend Selina Dalton (Frieda Pinto) to use Mr. Malcolm’s list of requirements for a wife against him.
Everything I Could Have Wanted and More
With this being based on a contemporary novel, I was a little skeptical. This is a genre I am very picky about since I have been a hard-core Jane Austen fan for as long as I can remember, and I crave the best chemistry, longing, and wit when it comes to romance. Although I came in with these high expectations, they were thoroughly surpassed. From the very first moments with the music and establishing shots, I was hooked.
I don’t know if I should credit my love for this movie to the script or to the actors who brought those written characters to life. Either way, the characterization is such a strength to this film. The characters are very unique from one another and from anything I have seen before. There was a lot of range in their emotions and in the roles they would play, being helpful one minute and antagonistic in another. It was very realistic in how people can have their good and bad moments. Whether or not we as an audience agreed with their actions, we still loved them flaws and all. Plus, it made for fantastic drama.
While ‘Mr. Malcolm’s List’ certainly pays homage to other popular period romances, they made this story their own. A major theme of the movie is artificiality versus authenticity especially when it comes to the dating game. This provided interesting commentary that applies to the 1800s and today. Authenticity carries over to the production itself as the plot and conversations develop so naturally. I was very surprised by how the plot progressed in ways that would best suit the characters instead of falling into predictable tropes. I can’t say this enough—I love these characters.
The humor was incredible. It kept the movie from dragging, and it made me want to this movie again as soon as I can. Ashton and Jackson-Cohen, in particular, absolutely steal each scene they are in with their line deliveries and their expressions when the camera lingers on them. I will be exclaiming “What an astute observation!” at every given opportunity from here on out. In part, the editing needs to be commended here for hitting those beats perfectly and allowing such a great flow for the story.
I highly recommend this movie as it is so well done and great for people of all ages. If you have a cold, black heart and can’t bring yourself to cheering on love and happiness for others, this may not be a good pick for you. But hey, the devious schemes may suck you in anyways.
Parent’s Guide: PG
There are some minor swear words used very rarely and two (extremely satisfying) kiss scenes that parents can feel safe bringing their kids to see.