Regency romance fans, rejoice! Your favorite genre is hitting the big screen soon. And, surprise! It’s NOT the five millionth adaptation of Jane Austen. It’s Mr. Malcolm’s List, based on the 2009 novel by Suzanne Allain.
Mr. Malcolm (played by Sope Dirisu) is searching for a wife based on a stringent list of requirements. However, a challenge arises when a woman he has rejected uses her friend Selina (Freida Pinto) to give him his comeuppance.
There’s something uniquely entertaining about this type of story in this setting, and this film looks like it’s going to give audiences everything they want when it hits theaters on July 1. We’re so ready for this film, and here’s why.
The Short Film
In 2019, director Emma Holly Jones began this project by shooting a short film in order to get funding for the feature film. It set up the basic premise of the narrative and ended with the two main characters seeing each other for the first time. It was the perfect way to whet the audience’s appetite for the full love story. What we see here establishes the characters well and has a touch of humor. Plus, you can tell the story is just beginning, and it makes you want to see more. Most of the same cast will also be in the feature-length movie, so this short is a bit like an epic, extended trailer for the film. It’s definitely worth watching and can be found on YouTube.
The wonderful diversity of the actors in this production is something we’re always here for. Not only are the leads both POC, but some of the supporting actors are as well. All of the talent assembled here is noteworthy. Aside from Dirisu and Pinto, the cast includes Zawe Ashton, Ashley Park, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, and Theo James.
Some viewers might miss the presence of Gemma Chan, who appeared in the short film in the role Ashton takes on for the feature. But this company of performers is remarkable, and we’re eager to see them bring this romance to life.
Bridgerton may have gotten a lot of attention for its diverse casting, but this project did it first.
Of course, the story is all about romance. I personally haven’t had a chance to read the novel the film is based on, but the premise is a promising one. It feels both classic and full of potential. For example, the romantic revenge plot is familiar from Dangerous Liaisons, but instead of tragedy, audiences will enjoy comedy with their period love story. The possibility for delightful dramatic irony and plenty of swoons seems high as well, and that’s just fun. Of course, the inevitable happy ending is something we can all appreciate now, too.
The Production Values
One glance at the stills released so far tells you everything you need to know about how this movie will look. The sets and locations stand out, but the costumes are even stronger. They really impress, with the period-appropriate silhouettes in mostly soft colors.
The production element of the short film that stood out most to me was the music. Though there is a different composer for the feature film, director Jones is again in charge, so maintaining that quality should be possible. These artistic aspects are something that sets period dramas apart from other films, so getting them right is important.
Why are you looking forward to Mr. Malcolm’s List?
Mr. Malcolm’s List hits theaters on July 1.