Netflix’s ‘Malcom & Marie’ Could’ve Been Better

Photo Credit/ Natalie Irula

Jazmin Cole

Social Media Manager

 “Malcolm & Marie,” the highly anticipated quarantine-produced film, written by HBO’s hit show “Euphoria’s” creator Sam Levinson released this month on Feb. 5.

Streaming giant, Netflix bought the film for $30 million and had almost everyone itching to see what the hype was about.

 The film starred Emmy-award winning actress Zendaya and Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” lead actor, John David Washington, Denzel Washington’s son.

The two actors play the couple, Malcolm and Marie.

The plot follows the aftermath of Malcolm, a writer-director arriving home with his girlfriend, Marie after forgetting to include her in his “Thank You” speech at the premiere of his new film “Imani.”

Without over-explaining, which the film does…a lot, and we will get to that, the gist of the film is essentially explosive arguments between the couple as Marie is hurt and angered by Malcolm who forgets to thank her in his speech.

Now, their intense verbal abuse could have been avoided if Malcolm had been sincere in his apologies to Marie. However, he chooses to downplay and disregard her feelings.

Malcolm’s film, “Imani” is supposedly about a black female named Imani, struggling to recover from drug addiction.

It is made abundantly clear that his film was heavily influenced by his girlfriend Marie’s life as she too struggled with drug addiction.

Now, I had high hopes for this film as I am an enthusiastic follower of Zendaya’s career.

Make no mistake, “Malcolm and Marie” is not a terrible film at all. It just could have been much, much better.

 Let’s get a few things out of the way, the decision to make the film black-and-white and noir-esque was a great decision.

The mood, tone, and look of the movie were beautiful. It was clear that the film and production crew paid special attention to lighting as the film’s leads are two African American people, one of which has a deep complexion that can get lost in black and white reels.

The performance giving by John David Washington as Malcolm was also amazing.

Although Malcolm’s character is pretentious, mean and a narcissist, Washington made the character feel real. A black screenwriter who pours his heart and soul into his passions but cannot seem to humble himself when he receives criticism.

Washington gives a great performance, but it is Zendaya’s that gave the film the “oomph” it needed.

Zendaya gave life to Marie in her close-up shots which also gave me chills.

She showed her range in intense scenes like Marie’s monologue at the end of the film.

I felt sorry for Marie as all she wanted was a thank you from the man who says he loves her and will essentially benefit from her life’s struggles.

She felt that him not thanking her was how he felt about their relationship. Marie thought that Malcolm felt like he did not need to thank her.

He thinks of himself her “knight in shining armor” because he took her to rehab. In the end, all she wanted was to feel appreciated, and again and again, he brushed her feelings to the side.

 As good as the performances and look of the film were, I cannot sit here and say that I was not exhausted by the extensive dialogue.

“Malcolm & Marie” was an hour and forty-six minutes of long speeches of verbal abuse and make-out sessions.

The dialogue was too much.

Sam Levinson is an amazing screenwriter. However, I cannot help but feel like the film would have been ten times more interesting if Washington and Zendaya were not talking The. Entire. Time.

Many critical reviews on “Malcolm & Marie” claimed that its writer Sam Levinson wrote a little too much and I have to agree.

So, is the film worth a watch? Not really.

If you have time to sit through it and want to see the raw performances by Zendaya and Washington that might get them nominated for Oscars, then: Yes, go for it.

Otherwise, you might not make it to the end.

Email Jazmin at:

jcole17@live.esu.edu

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