Mr. Malcolm’s List review – romcom Regency served with a glaze of irony |  Film

Mr. Malcolm’s List review – romcom Regency served with a glaze of irony | Film

Mr. Malcolm’s List review – romcom Regency served with a glaze of irony |  Film

Jo watching this engaging, silly, self-aware comedy is like inhaling a good-sized tank of nitrous oxide. Adapted by Suzanne Allain from her own novel and directed by Emma Holly Jones making her feature film debut, it is a Regency-style romantic adventure into the diverse, postcolonial universe of “alternative history” popularized by Bridgerton on television. And portraying people of color as fictional British aristocrats in the waning years of George III need be no more affectation than having non-whites play factual kings in Shakespeare’s history plays. .

This good-humoured entertainment is certainly more watchable than Netflix’s grimacing, smug new version of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, which misjudges the same approach. Mr. Malcolm’s list includes its parameters and limitations and the value of not breaking the fourth wall, and perhaps most importantly it includes that the Bridgertonian plot is in the more spirited tradition of Georgette Heyer, not Austen . Everyone involved takes demure but also gleeful delight in the ridiculous beanies and absurd bows, furbelows, fanciful and impossibly tall hats.

Zawe Ashton, having starred in Harold Pinter’s Betrayal on Broadway and created one of the great sitcom characters with Vod in Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain’s television comedy Fresh Meat, brings subversive satirical force to the character of Julia Thistlewaite, a young very nervous woman who is looking for a husband in trendy London. He was asked to see The Barber of Seville in the company of society’s wealthiest and most eligible bachelor, the Honorable Jeremy Malcolm (Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù) who misses his nervous, uneducated chatter. When he rejects her, Julia is outraged to learn it’s because she hasn’t lived up to his secret list of 10 sharp attributes for an ideal wife. To redeem herself, she invites her best friend, the daughter of a penniless pastor, Selina Dalton (Freida Pinto), to town to trick Malcolm into faking the 10 comely attributes on her list. Meanwhile, handsome ex-rider Captain Henry Ossory (Theo James) also seems interested in Selina. it is so tight that its button fly will surely catch someone’s eye.

It’s all played absolutely straight, and yet also with an icing on the cake of irony, almost like an Ernie Wise play: observing decorum, but also hyper-aware of both the surreal weirdness of its conventions and the deadly seriousness in which they are traditionally represented. The diverse cast is kind of a distancing effect, though it’s fading, and obviously not aimed at modern relevance. What’s also interesting is how this movie reverses gender roles in the romantic comedy tradition of playing a trick on someone but falling in love with them. In, say, 10 Things I Hate About You, Heath Ledger’s badass is secretly paid to date Julia Stiles, but then develops real feelings for her. Here Pinto’s character cheats on Mr. Malcolm but then comes to be mortified by what she has done and how she has hurt his feelings.

Mr Malcolm’s List has no other ambition than to amuse. It’s always harder than it looks.

Mr. Malcolm’s List will be released in cinemas on August 26.

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