For centuries men and women have developed lists of traits their potential significant other should possess in order to embark upon the marriage. As a young girl, a few of my crazy requirements (among other things) was to see how the last name of my desired mate would look like with mine or if he had an impulsive sense adventure coupled with a great sense of humor. Oh…don’t act you never know what I’m about!! Well, in 19th-century England, a wealthy, young lady named Julia (Zawe Ashton) engages in courtship with Mr. Malcolm (Sopè Dìrìsù), a mysterious, wealthy suitor, unaware that he has a list of qualifications required of a future wife. After what one would consider a complete and utter disastrous meeting leaving Julia mortified and disappointed in her chances of snagging the young bachelor, she enlists the assistance of her cousin Selina Freida Pinto) whose sheer presence disrupts everything and everyone on a level neither could predict.
It’s no secret of my love and affection for period films (particularly Jane Austin), but now I can add author Suzanne Allain to my list. Her adaptation of Mr. Malcolm’s List is as scrumptiously tantalizing as the characters themselves. First time director and newlywed Emma Holly Jones was clearly in the right frame of mind to pull of a period piece feature with the vibes of a 90’s romcom (ie When Harry Met Sally) in a smart contemporary vein that will clearly resonate with younger audiences, as well as, this genre’s target. As a matter of fact, Jones became aware of the piece by way of Franklin Leonard’s infamous – The Black List, which is known for alerting the industry to scripts which often go on to become Oscar-winning and/or nomination contenders. The multi-cultural aspect speaks more to the reality of the time, which often isn’t depicted within the confines of these worlds and it definitely goes without saying I was there for every single drop.
Zawe Ashton (Julia Thistlewaite) and Theo James (Captain Henry Ossory) were exquisitely intriguing. Zawe literally steals the film with making Julia a delicious combination vulnerably sweet as she is pretentious and preposterous. She literally had me laughing out loud and talking to the screen! However, it’s the chemistry between Freida Pinto and Sopè Dìrísù which is subtle, palpable and insanely sexy as audiences are treated to women who are strong, yet don’t mind letting a man think they have the upper hand. I would be remiss in not mentioning Naoko Mori (Mrs Thistlewaite) and Ashley Park (Gertie Convington) as their characters beautifully add to the colorful diversity of this film and richness of characters that are created within the piece.
With stunning costumes, production design and breathtaking cinematography. Mr. Malcolm’s List is a delightfully, delectable tale of illustrating how destiny doesn’t always come in the package you intend or desire. Mr. Malcolm’s List is in theaters NOW and will be available on demand starting Thursday, July 21st. Rent/buy on all major platforms including Apple TV, Prime Video, Google Play & Vudu.