• Joe Gist

Malcolm & Marie - Joe's Take

2021 I 15 I 105mins I Dir: Sam Levinson


A director and his girlfriend's relationship is tested after they return home from his movie premiere and await critics' responses.


The stylish monochrome aesthetic definitely enticed me and I was keen to see John David Washington put to the test after seeing him in Tenet. Malcolm & Marie is certainly flawed despite its style but manages to demonstrate the acting capabilities of its two leads to great effect and raises some interesting points even if it can feel a little bloated sometimes in a script that has a lot to say.



The boiling tension between the couple in the introductory scenes were the highlight of the film for me. As the film begins to build on the complexity of the situation and the relationship, some things are certainly welcomed more than others as discussions regarding the ethics of filmmaking and film criticism are repeatedly reintroduced with new perspectives which begins to feel slightly convoluted before the end of the film. These discussions are however made more interesting when taking into account some of the controversy surrounding the films release (links at the bottom of this article).



The main problem I had with the film is that I never quite bought into the characters being real people but a reflection of the directors views. This is due to the stylised, high contrast black and white visuals making the whole thing feel like a (stunning) music video and a script which trades subtlety for self awareness. It definitely opens interesting topics up and discusses them in detail but doesn't necessarily find all of its answers. All that said, the film is well paced considering the amount of dialogue and well acted by the two leads who are well suited in their roles.



Despite its flaws and surrounding controversy, Malcolm & Marie earns its place for opening up discussions on relationships, race and representation in modern art with two central performances that exceed everything around them, including a script that arguably has a little too much to say.


Written by

Joe Gist

STARRING: John David Washington, Zendaya

BEST QUOTE: Cinema doesn't need to have a message. It needs to have a heart"

FUN FACT: One of the first films to be written, directed and completed during the COVID-19 pandemic in the united states.

IF YOU LIKED: Blue Jay, Like Crazy, Newness


'Malcolm & Marie' Trailer


ARTICLES

Why is Malcolm & Marie Proving So Controversial?

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/malcolm-marie-sam-levinson-zendaya-b1801016.html

John David Washington Addresses Backlash Over Age Gap with Zendeya

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/malcolm-and-marie-john-david-washington-zendaya-age-gap-b1787137.html

How Using A Black Actor To Vent White Frustration Sinks 'Malcolm & Marie'

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2021/feb/05/malcolm-and-marie-sam-levinson-netflix-john-david-washington-zendaya

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