Bridgerton Fans Need to Watch Mr. Malcolm’s List

The cinematography, set design, and costuming of Mr. Malcolm’s List do not fully attempt to recreate Regency England, but all three elements clearly draw inspiration from Regency art. The costumes in the London scenes tend toward darker jewel tones while the dresses and suits worn in the countryside seats have brighter and earthier qualities. The women’s dresses and jackets still have the classic Regency style of the high waist but they use fewer overlays and contrast fabrics to create patterns.

This does not mean the clothes are plain, however. For example, one of Julia’s pelisses has very fine tucks along the collar and sides. The men’s suits are also toned down in terms of accessories and tailoring. In addition, the fashion draws more inspiration from the late 1810s and into 1820s, which is another distinguishing factor from Bridgerton’s blending in late 18th century court fashion with 1960s women’s dress silhouettes. Fashion fans should look out for a scene involving a fancy dress (a costume ball for Americans) where there’s a wide variety of historical fashion eras recreated.

For Bridgerton fans who wish the humor was a bigger factor, Selina’s lessons in Mr. Malcolm’s List is the answer to your wishes. While there is pressure for Selina to be “the perfect woman,” the rapport between Julia and Selina is generally more lighthearted. Julia’s disinterest in getting back together with Mr. Malcolm coupled with Selina trying to make the most of days away from her normal routine in the countryside lowers the bar on the potential for melodrama. Julia and Selina’s friendship overcomes differences in status but their challenge is to overcome the speedbumps on the road toward completing the revenge plan. By contrast, none of Bridgerton’s female characters have friends outside of the Ton, and their friends within the Ton are often rivals during the season.

Thus there is less punching down on antagonists or those viewed as lesser in the new movie. Even the classic Regency trope of the “embarrassing relation” is softened by the circumstances of the character. Look out for Selina’s chatty Cathy cousin Gertie Covington (Ashley Park) to break out of her seemingly limited guest star role.

Of course romance shenanigans wouldn’t work without other potential suitors attempting to cause conflicting feelings. Selina thus bumps into Lady Ossory’s nephew, Capt. Ossory (Theo James) while out with Mr. Malcolm. He’s hoping to make a connection with Selina but this is yet another potential obstacle to the plan. Capt. Ossory is not as wealthy as Mr. Malcolm, but some in society may see him as a more appropriate match for the daughter of a clergyman.

As the film introduces the major players and supporting characters in the story, it’s clear that the other major similarity Mr. Malcolm’s List shares with Bridgerton is the conscious decision to racebend its casting. The short film version of Mr. Malcolm’s Listreleased in February 2019 to fundraise for a feature length movie, actually predates Bridgerton’s first season and also preempted its use of racially inclusive casting, although with some different players from the finished film.

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