MR. MALCOLM’S LIST – Review by Susan Granger

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Perhaps spurred by Lin-Manuel Miranda’s multiracial/multicultural hit Hamilton, inclusive, colorblind casting has become more and more popular, as evidenced by Netflix’s hit costume drama Bridgerton and the upcoming adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

Now, there’s Mr. Malcolm’s List, a frothy, Regency-era romantic comedy, directed by Emma Holly Jones and written by Suzanne Allain, based on her 2020 novel by the same name.

Set in 1818 England, the upper-class, marriage-market plot revolves around the season’s most eligible bachelor, wealthy Jeffrey Malcolm (British/Nigerian actor Sope Dirisu), who is seen yawning through a boring ‘first date’ at the opera with Julia Thislewaite (Zawe Ashton), a former debutante entering her fifth social season as a single woman.

Because unsophisticated Julia is unable to sustain an intelligent conversation, there will be no second date – an indisputable fact that Julia finds humiliating, particularly when a mocking caricature of her is distributed throughout London, captioned “Next!”

From her cousin, bumbling Lord Cassidy (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), Julia discovers that notoriously fastidious Mr. Malcolm has a checklist of 10 qualities that any future ‘Mrs. Malcolm’ must possess.

Obsessively spiteful, scheming Julia summons her childhood chum, Selina Dalton (Freida Pinto), a candidly guileless clergyman’s daughter from the countryside, to London to serve as a set-up for revenge. While the outcome of this duplicity is predictable, the various courtships are charming, even endearing.

According to the press notes, Emma Holly Jones was eager to depict witty women who refused to conform to the ideas and boundaries that society placed upon them: “I wanted to reflect our society today so young brown and Black girls around the world would have their own Jane Austen-like film.”

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, Mr. Malcolm’s List is a swooning, subversively sumptuous 7, playing in theaters.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.