I had to quickly rush over here to the blog to write a review about Malcolm & Marie before I got influenced by other, very professional reviewers and film critics. I am a film school graduate, however, I am no real filmmaker yet. This review will be a movie lover’s perspective.
BIG WARNING: THERE ARE SOME SPOILER ON THIS BLOG POST
Malcolm & Marie is based on an evening where a couple faces each other’s ugliness, insecurities, and the need for reassurance of each other’s true feelings. They get completely emotionally naked and leave no stone unturned. The two-character and one location film is starring John David Washington and Zendaya Coleman and directed by Sam Levinson of Euphoria fame.
We get introduced to a beautiful, seemingly wealthy young couple who just arrived home from a glamorous event. We soon realize that the event was Malcolm’s first major film premiere as write and director. We soon realize that one person (Malcolm) had an amazing time and the other person (Marie) is visibly annoyed. This becomes an instant hook, we, the viewers, are about to go into an insane 1hour 43min and 23sec emotional rollercoaster.
Malcolm & Marie is exactly what happens when two types of “crazy” meet each other. If I were an astrology fundi, I would say Malcolm and Marie are twin flames. They bring the absolute worst and best out of each other, they drive each other crazy, literally but…they love each other and it shows.
As expected Zendaya Coleman and John David Washington pour their hearts into the characters.
Zendaya blew us away on Euphoria as Rue, she shook off her little girl character and has transformed into a mature actress write before our eyes. I’d be lying if I said I was not a little worried about being convinced by her portrayal of a very complex character. From the trailer alone, one could tell that the character is demanding.
Marie is a former drug addict and the film that Malcolm wrote and directed was inspired by her. She is raw and unfiltered, she says it like it is. You just never know what you are going to get from her. One minute she is enraged, the next moment she is soft vulnerable, then before you know it she is laughing. She enjoys playing mind games on Malcolm, maybe on herself too. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell if she is genuine or tricking us when she pours her heart out.
Malcolm is a textbook narcissist. He is selfish and has an obsessive need to correct all the damn time. He is loud, he is demanding and he has a strong presence. We discover that he has a history of dating broken girls, they all seem to be a lot like Marie. He is merciless when he criticizes Marie. Broken as she is, he isn’t afraid of calling her out. It is very hard to tell if he is being brutally honest or if he is being emotionally abusive.
John David goes in on the many monologues of the film, sometimes he speaks so fast and loudly that I want him to just keep quiet! Malcolm is passionate, even when he fights. He does have an insecure and vulnerable side that Marie can bring out. He has a weakness for her, even though he tries his best to fight it. He needs constant reassurance from Marie, he cares about how Marie sees him. He takes in what she says and if he needs further explanation, he demands it.
Malcolm and Marie have many memorable moments. In their first uncomfortable interaction, Malcolm is eating a hot meal mac and cheese prepared by Marie, he aggressively eats it even if it is too hot to eat, while he continues to argue with Marie. Here we see one of the seven deadly sins, gluttony.
Another highlight is when Malcolm and Marie are finally about to make love, as they are passionately kissing, Malcolm breaks it off for a short while because he needs to run to the toilet, he politely asks Marie to stay as she is, he asks her to think happy thoughts to keep the mood alive. She tries to, but she suddenly starts crying, Malcolm returns from the bathroom and he quickly realizes the mood has changed, he treads carefully, he doesn’t shout, he tries to figure out what is happening, then Marie asks him why he did not cast her for the role of the feature film they just celebrated as it was clear that film is about her. We finally get to know what the real issue is, from this scene, things get uncomfortable to watch, uncomfortable in a good way.
The couple communicates what they can’t articulate through music. They play each other songs that have lyrical content of what they are feeling at that moment. I found it quite charming.
I am not sure if this was intentional or not but the film also cleverly covers the seven deadly sins thought the film, finishing it off with guilt.
Malcolm & Marie isn’t for everyone, it touches on the complexities of long term relationships, relationships where each partner has witnessed the absolute worst of the other partner. If one has not been such a dynamic, they might find it quite hard to grasp the whole point of the film. Some scenes and dialogue might pass you right over the head.
This film handles very complex emotions in a very simple way.