If you love the likes of Bridgerton and Pride And Prejudice, you’ll want to bookmark upcoming Regency romcom Mr Malcolm’s List, starring Freida Pinto, Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù and Zawe Ashton.
Corsets, courtships and fabulous Regency ballrooms: we can’t get enough of period dramas right now. Whether you’ve a special place in your heart for Downton Abbey, Sanditon or Bridgerton, we’re certainly spoilt for choice with TV shows and films that put a contemporary spin on the age-old quest of searching for a potential suitor.
Of course, it’s a truth universally acknowledged that you can never have too much historical romance in your life. So if you’ve been watching re-runs of any of the aforementioned shows in a bid to get your period drama fix, we come bearing exciting news: a new Regency romcom is coming to the big screen this summer, and it’s sure to make us fall in love.
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Based on the book of the same name by Suzanne Allain, who adapted it into screenplays for both a 2019 short film and the upcoming feature, Mr Malcolm’s List follows Julia Thistlewaite (Zawe Ashton), who is jilted by London’s most eligible bachelor, Mr Malcolm (Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù), after failing to meet every qualification on his exhaustive list of requirements for a potential wife.
Feeling humiliated and determined to exact revenge, she convinces her friend Selina Dalton (Freida Pinto) to make an entrance into London’s high society and pretend to be his ideal match. Soon, Mr Malcolm wonders whether he’s found the perfect woman… or the perfect hoax.
Directed by Emma Holly Jones in her feature debut, the trailer for the Austen-esque film has all the hallmarks of a captivating period drama: extravagant ballgowns, lush landscapes and will-they-or-won’t-they tension.
Much like Bridgerton, it also has a diverse cast. British Nigerian actor Dìrísù (Gangs Of London) has been called “the new Mr Darcy” by Jones.
“When I was looking for Mr Malcolm, I met Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù on Skype and I knew within, like, two minutes,” she told Entertainment Weekly.
“We were looking for our Mr Darcy, and it was instant for me. I could see the character the moment I met him, and I’ve never wavered on that.”
Jones, who describes Pinto as “so vivacious, so beautiful, super talented and kind”, also explained that female friendship is an important theme in the film.
“Female friendship was something that Freida and I, since the short film, were both really adamant that we wanted to develop in the material and flesh out that storyline,” she continued.
“I wanted it to relate to a modern audience through its sense of humour, but also through the souls of the characters. I didn’t want these girls to feel dated.”
According to Vanity Fair, the film will include a scene where Mr Malcolm speaks Yoruba, while Pinto’s dialogue has been adjusted to reflect that of the South Asian community in England during the era. It was important, Jones said, to accurately portray the demographic of society in the 1800s.
“History does not suggest that England was just made up of white people,” she continued. “I spent a lot of time visiting museums, looking at art, talking to historians, to really root the world of Malcolm in truth.
“I don’t think we need to see another period drama the way they’ve always been made. There’s going to be people who bump up against it, but those aren’t the people that I made this movie for. I made this movie for women, specifically women of colour, who have never had their own Keira Knightley or their own Sense And Sensibility, all the films that I grew up loving.”
Mr Malcolm’s List will be released in cinemas on 1 July 2022.
Images: Ross Ferguson/Bleecker Street
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