Quick Extra Review: Mr Malcolm's List
Flash Review Of An Unexpected New Watch
I always attempt to look two weeks ahead as to what upcoming new film releases I plan to watch and review. Unfortunately that doesn’t always mean I’ll be able to have time for every single film that comes out that particular weekend; and every now and then a movie that gets some buzz escapes my radar regardless. Usually I end up coming back around to some of them and release them as part of my weekly reviews, but with my slate already full for next weekend, and my wife begging me to tag along with her to go see this film that came out a few weeks back which has enjoyed a little bit of buzz from some cinephiles, I decided to write up a quick extra one-post review instead. So without further adieu, here are my thoughts on Mr. Malcom’s List. A reminder, you can click this link to see how I grade films when I review them.
- Plot: When she fails to meet an item on his list of requirements for a bride, Julia Thistlewaite is jilted by London’s most eligible bachelor, Mr. Malcolm. Feeling humiliated and determined to exact revenge, she convinces her friend Selina Dalton to play the role of his ideal match. Soon, Mr. Malcolm wonders whether he’s found the perfect woman…or the perfect hoax.
- Review: This is an adaptation to a novel that happens to have been handled screenplay-wise by the source material’s author herself, Suzanne Allain. Released last weekend, but escaping my radar until my wife requested I come with her to check it out at after her best friend raved to her about it. Given the cinephile and aspiring film critic I am, not to mention my love for romances and period pieces anyways, I had no problem deciding to tag along.
Unsurprisingly the movie has been a niche product, not seeing much box office success and in only one week it was regulated to a one screen, one time slot, showing at my local AMC theatre. A shame, but again expected with these sort of small movies in today’s movie-going environment. But regardless was Mr. Malcolm’s List any good in my opinion? Well the answer is - yeah! I thought it was a delightful “comfort food” movie for anybody who loves their period piece rom-coms.
Starring a diverse ensemble that includes Sope Dirisu as the titular character, Freida Pinto as our protagonist, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Ashley Park, Zawe Ashton, Theo James, Divian Ladwa, Naoko Mori, Sophie Vavasseur, and Sianad Gregory, this was an excellent chance for these actors and actresses who are usually regulated to background or side characters to have bigger and meatier roles. The Directing from newcomer Emma Holly Jones is competent and I found the cinematography, set designs, and (especially) the costumes to be top notch.
The comedy in the film is modern, at times hinting to the kind of romantic follies that you’d find in a typical rom-com set in smartphone times, but with the sophistication, elegance, and class you’re expecting from an early 1800s England backdrop. There were some audience moments in this, and my screening’s crowd laughed out loud a few times. The characters all had specific personalities and roles, never feeling TOO stereotypical or contrived even if nothing here is necessarily doing something never before seen for this type of movie.
The only small gripes I’d give it is that it does arguably overstay its welcome just a tad, specifically dragging out the finale; and it does suffer from having an aesthetic and vibe from it in that even in some really humorous parts it still feels like its trying to hold back from getting too over the top in its comedy and I think the film might have actually benefited from daring to go further there. While I joined my crowd in laughing out loud a moment or two, more times than not my reaction to the humor was more inward than outward and it left me feeling at times wanting.
But overall this was a delightful watch and I can see why even with its small stature and box office its had some great word of mouth. It didn’t blow me away or anything like that, we’re not talking 2020’s Emma or 2017’s Phantom Thread here of course, but I had a great movie date night going to see this with the wife. If its still available to watch at your local theatre, and if you’re a big fan of this kind of tale, I highly suggest you add this to your own list of movies to watch.
- Initial Grade: B+