By Melanie Solari
“This isn’t a love story. This is a story about love.”
Malcolm & Marie is a compelling and captivating film with powerful performances mixed with fantastic writing. I believe it is definitely worth watching.
On the 8th January 2021, Netflix unveiled the official trailer of its latest film called Malcolm & Marie. The film was released on the streaming site on the 5th February.
The visionary director of the black-and-white film is Sam Levinson, who is also the creator of the hit teen drama series ‘Euphoria’ on HBO.
The film was shot and directed during the pandemic which effectively contributes to the intensity of the environment as the film primarily takes place in the couple’s household.
I believe this was the perfect time for Levinson to make the film and for Netflix to release it. Lockdown restrictions have made a lot of us to stay indoors in our households with family members, flat mates and significant others. The fact that the two people are in one location with nowhere to go is both universal and relatable.
Malcolm & Marie follows a story about a couple that go through periods of revelations about their relationships, which evidently, tests the couple’s love for one another. As the couple argues in pairs of extended monologues, other themes arise within their arguments. Drug addiction, betrayal, boundaries of love, mental health, these are themes that are relevant to today’s society and themes that people can relate to.
In the film, Malcolm is an up-and-coming filmmaker, returning home from a premier that could boost his career, he realises that his success could change the nature of his relationship with Marie.
John David Washington, the son of the well-known actor, Denzel Washington, and the main actor in Tenet, plays the role of filmmaker Malcolm. Actress and singer, Zendaya plays Malcolm’s girlfriend, Marie.
One of the things that Sam Levinson does successfully is use the character of Malcolm, a black man, to raise issues and vent his anger towards film critics in the film industry. Levinson uses Malcolm to attack white film critics and their lack of vocabulary to analyse black arts. Instead, they use words like ‘authentic’ and ‘urgent’ to analyse black arts in a political lens even if some films are made solely for the intended genre, be it romance or comedy.
The entirety of the film is shot in black-and-white which adds to the rawness of their emotions and the realness of their relationship. It is also an ode to Classic Hollywood Cinema and romance.
There are certain characteristics of Hollywood Cinema which are embedded in Malcolm & Marie which is impressive. One being the continuity editing which makes the plot look smooth and realistic. The majority of the scenes in the film had continuous shots with small cut scenes which I believe helps with the pace of the film and the shift between character perspective.
Another characteristic of Hollywood Cinema is a chain of events that affects the character’s involved and the overall plot. Malcolm and Marie’s relationship portray this well. For each argument that occurs, there is a cause which is revealed bit by bit to the audience as the plot thickens. The effects of the arguments negatively impact both Malcolm and Marie and their relationship.
The cinematography is beautiful and the soundtrack compliments the developing plot within the film. Both Zendaya and John Washington portray their character’s very well. You hang onto their every word and their emotions, body language and facial expressions move you and take you on a journey of their relationship.