Sunday, October 15, 2023

REVIEW: Mr. Malcolm's List (live action movie)

Mr. Malcolm's List is a historical romantic comedy based on a book of the same title by Suzanne Allain. I bought my copy new.


Mr. Jeremy Malcolm is the most eligible bachelor of the season - even though he doesn't have a title, he's handsome and has inherited a fortune. In an effort to find a suitable bride, he's been spending a little time with pretty much every eligible young lady, the latest being Julia Thistlewaite. However, Mr. Malcolm has very specific ideas about what he's looking for in a wife, and Julia isn't it - she flutters her eyelashes too much in an attempt to flirt with him, and she knows nothing about current politics.

They only went to the opera once, so Mr. Malcolm doesn't think anything of not calling on Julia again. However, Julia is completely humiliated, especially when an embarrassing caricature of her and Mr. Malcolm starts making the rounds. Bent on revenge, she invites her impoverished friend, Selina Dalton, to stay with her for a while and then convinces her to help her with a scheme. She plans to introduce Selina and Mr. Malcolm, make Selina seem like Mr. Malcolm's perfect wife, and then have Selina humiliate Mr. Malcolm in return by telling him that he doesn't measure up to her list of qualifications.

It's not exactly a solid plan to begin with, and Julia certainly doesn't expect that Selina and Mr. Malcolm would actually fall for each other.

I read the book this was based on because the movie trailers made this look fun. The book, however, was mediocre at best, so I dragged my feet about watching the movie. Well, I finally got around to it, and I'm happy to report that this is one of those instances where the movie is better than the book.

The cast was delightful - I particularly enjoyed Oliver Jackson-Cohen as Lord Cassidy, Julia's long-suffering cousin. His amusement at the signs that Selina and Mr. Malcolm were actually well-suited and truly falling for each other was great. 

Thankfully, the movie replaced the book's conservatory scene with a scene in which Mr. Malcolm and Selina were both invited to a tour of the gardens - it wasn't particularly memorable, but it was certainly better than the ridiculousness of the original scene. The movie also put a little more effort into establishing Julia and Captain Ossory as a believable couple, and I wasn't left feeling like the characters ended up with the wrong people.

This probably wouldn't be the best period romance for someone interested in historical accuracy - I'm not very knowledgeable about this time period myself, but the way certain characters acted struck me as being inaccurate. Still, it stuck to the right level of "historical-ish" for me, and I enjoyed the occasional unlikely moments, such as the scene in which Selina said that the government should put money into services for the poor and one of the servants whispered to another "Or they could pay us more."

All in all, this was a nice light romantic comedy movie, definitely better than the material it was based on.


A featurette, some deleted scenes (the one extra I didn't watch), and a blooper reel.

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