Mr. Malcolm's List
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Emma Holly Jones directs this adaptation of Suzanne Allain’s 2020 Regency period novel through a contemporary prism and with a sparky humour.
Jeremy Malcolm (Ṣọpẹ Dìrísù) is one of London’s most eligible bachelors, which, in truth, is something of a bore for him. It means that he’s constantly attracting the attentions of society’s young women. On occasion, he steps out with one of them, only to find that they don’t score high on his list of desirable qualities. When Julia Thistlewaite (Zawe Ashton) fails his test, she decides to take revenge. Inviting her childhood friend Selina Dalton (Freida Pinto) to town, Julia is determined to ensure Jeremy falls for Selina and then, when he’s on the cusp of proposing, she plans to turn the tables on him, highlighting what it is that makes him less than eligible.
A cross between Whit Stillman’s razor-sharp Austen adaptation Love & Friendship and Bridgerton, Jones’ film is a briskly paced period comedy that evinces a lightness of touch yet remains knowing enough to be more than a mere confection. Allain adapts her own book and never gets bogged down in the minutiae of the source material’s plotting, instead opting for a breeziness that whisks us through the unfolding action. The cast, particularly Dìrísù and Ashton, convincingly play their characters as both charming and controlling, while the production design, costumes and Tony Miller’s cinematography are effervescent.