“Mr. Malcolm’s List” is a period romance with the sense and sensibility of a modern rom-com.
Nobleman Mr. Malcolm drafts an impossibly high standard checklist for his suitress. After a failed date, one of his spurned potential lovers and list flunkees devises a plan to get back at Mr. Malcolm, leading to unexpected romance.
“She’s the regency Bridget Jones,” star Theo James said of the film’s female romantic lead to Knockturnal at the red carpet screening on Wednesday. “It’s a period drama, but it’s also quite contemporary — not only in its representation, but in its themes and humor.” Director Emma Holly Jones described her film as a “period rom-com,” drawing influence from the literature of Jane Austen to the humor of modern comedies to the cinematography of Stanley Kubrick.
In terms of representation, the film updates the traditionally white regency romance drama with people of color filling the 19th century corsets and top hats of the landed gentry. Like the film’s popular contemporary “Bridgerton,” the story makes no allusions to its revisionism, which star Freida Pinto appreciates. “It’s a statement: we are not trying to justify our presence in this movie,” she said. “We are just ‘being’ because we believe we deserve to be telling stories that represent people of all races, all colors. If there’s a statement in this movie: it’s that we are just ‘being.’”
Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù, who plays the titular character, also appreciates how the characters “are just being” in their own skin. “Being on set with as many [people of color] actors as there were didn’t feel weird to me because that’s the world I live in,” he said. “Hopefully people just feel included. And it’s not too strange that this is the way it is now because it should have been this way a long time ago.”
The screening was followed by a VIP reception at Le Chalet at L’Avenue at Saks. The decor brought partygoers back to 1818, with a live water color illustrator painting guests, an outdoor croquet setup and a very vintage cocktail menu inspired by the era.
Mr. Malcolm’s List hits theaters Friday, July 1.