Warning: minor spoilers.
Jane Austen, is if nothing else the Queen of the modern romantic comedy. Her tales of love, loss, growth, and sometimes forced humility has entertained fans for over 200 years.
The new movie, Mr. Malcolm’s List (based on the book of the same name by Suzanne Allain), was released in movie theaters last weekend.
Julia Thistlewaite (Zawe Ashton, replacing Gemma Chan) has been publicly spurned and wants revenge. After four seasons on the marriage market, she is still single. The man who spurned her is Mr. Jeremy Malcolm (Sope Dirisu). Mr. Malcolm is the most sought-after bachelor of the season and has the pick of the litter when it comes to his future wife.
To fend off the masses, he has created a list of qualities that a woman must have if she is to become Mrs. Malcolm. When Julia finds out about the list via her cousin, Lord Cassidy (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), she concocts a plan to get back at him. Enlisting her old school friend Selina Dalton (Freida Pinto), she and Lord Cassidy (known to his friend as Cassie) turn Selina into marriage bait. The final result is for Selina to reveal her own list and reject Mr. Malcolm.
But as things tend to go in this genre, the scheme is turned on its head. Jeremy and Selina genuinely fall for one another. Making this love story even more twisted is the addition of Captain Henry Ossory (Theo James). Captain Ossory seems also to be courting Selina, creating a very interesting love triangle.
Though it helps to know something about the regency era and/or Austen’s writing, it is not a requirement to enjoy the film. There is enough to keep the modern fan entertained and laughing.
Like its streaming counterpart, Bridgerton, the main actors all come from different backgrounds. What drew me in and kept me going was the organic romance between Pinto and Dirisu’s characters. These are two people who are perfect for one another, if only they can put down their individual baggage.
My only complaint is that the secondary relationship between Julia and Henry was a little underdeveloped. They are supposed to be the Jane Bennet and Mr. Bingley to Selina and Jeremy’s Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. The problem is that while Austen fully developed both couples, Allain (who wrote both the book and the screenplay) left Julia and Henry hanging.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
Mr. Malcolm’s List is presently in theaters.
P.S. The costumes are gorgeous. Wearing any of them (specifically the ones worn by Pinto) would be a dream come true.