Funny Love: Our Review of ‘Mr. Malcolm’s List’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - July 01, 2022
Funny Love: Our Review of ‘Mr. Malcolm’s List’

Believe it or not; laughter and love, go hand in hand…

In theatres now; Mr. Malcolm’s List is hardly breaking any new kind of ground, but it’s a fun romance (akin to the works of Jane Eyre or Bridgerton) that pays as much attention to the romance as it does the farce of it all that is unfolding in front our eyes.

When she fails to meet an item on his list of requirements for a bride, Julia Thistlewaite (Zawe Ashton) is jilted by London’s most eligible bachelor, Mr. Malcolm (Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù). Feeling humiliated and determined to exact revenge, she convinces her friend Selina Dalton (Freida Pinto) to play the role of his ideal match. Soon, Mr. Malcolm wonders whether he’s found the perfect woman…or the perfect hoax.

Let’s be honest; Mr. Malcolm’s List isn’t going to light the world on fire, but it’s got such an earnest nature about itself that it’s kind of hard to look away from this love story that you KNOW is silly as all hell, but just can’t stop smiling because of.

Now, making a period piece as your debut feature would be to put it kindly, be seen as somewhat of a risky move, but it pays off here as director Emma Holly Jones announces herself to the world as a storytelling force to be reckoned with in one of the strongest and most self-assured feature debuts that we’ve seen in quite some time.

Working from the script by Suzanne Allain (which was a self-published novel and ultimately pulled from the infamous ‘Black List’ in Hollywood) she’s basically making fan fiction for anyone with a Jane Austen novel on their bedside tables.  That’s not a bad thing as she masters the tone and tenor of the environments that she is navigating through quite well, but where it really breaks away is in the humor of it all.

Most period pieces, even the ones trying to be something of a comedic romp tend to take themselves far too seriously but here with a sly wink and a nod to the camera, we’re allowed to laugh and embrace the absurdity of the situation these characters find themselves in but also the characters themselves.

Sadly though this is where the movie dips just a little, it’s the curse of a debut feature that you usually need your friends to come work on it and you don’t always get the best performances.

No one is bad by any stretch as Freida does a pretty good job as the “intellectual” friend come to turn high society on its ear as she gets to know ‘Mr. Malcolm’; aka: Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù who does well in the title role and they have good chemistry together.   Zawe Ashton is hilarious as the spurned Julia (even when she plays it a little too large) and Oliver Jackson-Cohen rounds it out for some fun moments, while Theo James just plays it all a little too rigid to the point where you can tell that he’s just there to pull focus.

While at first glance your instincts would categorize Mr. Malcolm’s List as a ‘chick-flick’ (and you wouldn’t be wrong) but it’s got more to it than just being engaging and satisfying romantic story.  It’s actually one that couples can appreciate because while it stays true to the ideals of true love, it isn’t afraid to have a laugh or two at its expense as a part of the price it takes  and the obstacles you have to overcome to get there.

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David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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