Mr. Malcolm’s List Parent Guide
Just because it isn't great doesn't mean it isn't good.
Parent Movie Review
It’s 1818 and Mr Jeremiah Malcolm (Sope Dirisu) finds himself one of the most sought after marital prospects in London’s high society. The younger son of an earl, Malcolm is handsome, rich, and owner of an estate in Kent. Well aware of his eligibility, Malcolm refuses to be charmed into an unsatisfactory marriage, so he makes a list of the attributes he seeks in a wife.
Julia Thistlewaite (Zawe Ashton) is beautiful, charming – and not Mr. Malcolm’s cup of tea. When he stops pursuing her, she becomes a laughingstock and determines to see Malcolm humiliated, using his own list as ammunition. Hatching a revenge scheme, Julia pressures her old friend, Selina Dalton (Freida Pinto), to come to London, play the part of Malcolm’s ideal woman, and then deliver a stinging rejection. There’s just one catch – Selina and Malcolm are perfect for each other.
Fans of period rom-coms can add Mr. Malcolm’s List to their roster of period films. It lacks the wicked irony of Jane Austen’s classic novels (and film adaptations) but it’s still a perfectly satisfactory film. Just because it isn’t great doesn’t mean it isn’t good.
This film succeeds because, at its core, it’s entertaining. It doesn’t raise any significant issues and it has some clanging anachronisms, but it’s fun. Zawe Ashton’s outrageous overacting as the spurned and vindictive Julia is amusing but she doesn’t chew the scenery for the entire runtime. She also provides some authentic emotion and real growth. Director Emma Holly Jones is clearly fond of her characters but never takes them too seriously and allows us to laugh good-naturedly at their errors and missteps. The lighthearted tone occasionally slides close to farce, but never quite goes over the edge.
One of the movie’s weaknesses is the romantic chemistry, which doesn’t always “zing” on the big screen but Freida Pinto projects such heartfelt sincerity in her role and Theo James such clear-sighted affection in his pursuit of Julia that it’s impossible not to share the happiness of the characters as their happily ever after comes into view.
Astonishingly, in a world of increasingly edgy romances, Mr. Malcolm’s List is clean. With minimal negative content (primarily low-cut period gowns), this is a movie you could watch with your clergyman or Great Aunt Ethel. It’s clean enough for kids, but they will definitely not be interested. As for fans of the genre, this movie might not be at the top of their list for Regency romances, but it’s worth a watch.Directed by Emma Holly Jones. Starring Theo James, Sope Dirisu, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, and Freida Pinto.. Running time: 115 minutes. Theatrical release July 1, 2022. Updated August 31, 2022
Watch the trailer for Mr. Malcolm’s List
Mr. Malcolm’s List
Rating & Content Info
Why is Mr. Malcolm’s List rated PG? Mr. Malcolm’s List is rated PG by the MPAA for some smoking and mild language
Violence: A woman is decoyed and locked up in a room. Birds are shot in a target shooting/hunting context. Dead birds are seen but there is no blood.
Sexual Content: Men and women kiss. Women frequently wear low cut gowns that display significant cleavage.
Profanity: There are two terms of deity and a minor profanity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: There are brief scenes of smoking. Adults drink small amount of sherry or wine in social situations: no one is intoxicated.
Page last updated August 31, 2022
Mr. Malcolm’s List Parents' Guide
Why does Selina agree to help with Julia’s scheme? What are her reservations? Have you ever agreed to do something you didn’t want to do? Were there any consequences to that decision?
Do you think Malcolm’s list is a sign of arrogance or of thoughtful consideration? To what extent do you think love should arise from spontaneous attraction versus careful analysis of compatibility and shared goals?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
This movie is based Mr. Malcolm’s List, a novel by Suzanne Allain.
Fans of Regency romance should definitely start with Jane Austen’s classic novels, Pride and Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility, Emma, Persuasion, and Mansfield Park.
Related home video titles:
In Emma. Autumn de Wilde adapts Jane Austen’s classic novel with a quasi-farcical tone that is very similar to Mr. Malcolm’s List.
A morally ambiguous protagonist plays the part of an innocent widow in order to manipulate people in Love & Friendship, which is an adaptation of Austen’s novella, Lady Susan.
Other movies have built plots around the idea of beginning a relationship under false pretenses. In He’s All That, a popular high school senior begins a relationship with a reclusive young man in order to change his image and win a bet – only to fall for him as she gets to know who he really is. Sandra Bullock stars in While You Were Sleeping, a film about a woman caught in a difficult situation when a comatose man’s family mistakenly assumes she’s his girlfriend. You’ve Got Mail goes back to the early days of the internet and focuses on an online relationship between a man and woman who don’t know that they are fierce business rivals in real life.