Tropic Sprockets / Mr. Malcolm’s List

By Ian Brockway

Directed by Emma Holly Jones, Suzanne Allain’s breezy comedy of manners “Mr. Malcolm’s List” comes to the screen. This is a light warm-hearted film that goes across the tongue like glazed sugar. In the mode of a Jane Austen Masterpiece Theater, it will make you cozily settle down for tea and scones. 

Mr. Malcolm (Sope Dirizu) is a well to do bachelor in the 1800s looking for a wife. Though very pleasant, Malcolm has the reputation of a cad and heartbreaker. 

Julia (Zawe Ashton) is in a simmering rage after being rejected by Malcolm and asks her school friend Selina (Freida Pinto) to seduce him and then reject his advances. Selina is reluctant but Julia tells her that Malcolm has it coming to him, since he keeps a list of requirements for brides, rating women like products.

The next day Selina, in the orangery, sees Mr. Malcolm emerge from the shadows and is lovestruck. Mr. Malcolm is charming and gracious. Then at a dinner, Malcolm sees Selina and she is asked to the ball. Selina is smitten.

Things go swimmingly until both Selina and Julia are dressed in an identical masquerade costume, each with the hope of winning Malcolm’s heart. Julia lets it out that Malcolm is shallow by reducing ladies to attributes, and Malcolm realizes the set-up. All are offended to no end.

This is a standard plotted soap opera and one knows what is in store but the cast is daring and refreshingly multicultural. Dirizu and Pinto are solid and genial, as is Theo James as a bumbling captain and Oliver Jackson-Cohen as a soporific Lord.

While the tempests won’t cause a stir for long or break much expensive porcelain, the narrative is jaunty and entertaining, with women far superior to men in game hunting, maintaining the upper hand in the sport of love too, as they should.

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