Malcolm & Marie: Appealing Setting, Teeming Monologues


R E V I E W – M O V I E


Zara Jahan


It’s almost like Marie tried to warn us about the movie when she said, “I promise you nothing productive is going to be said tonight.”

Sam Levinson’s recent collaboration with Zendaya and John David Washington on Malcolm & Marie was one of the most heavily-anticipated films of recent times. Shot during the lockdown, the movie stars Washington and Zendaya as the name protagonists. 

The movie begins with Malcolm and Marie returning to their luxurious house after a successful premiere that marks Malcolm’s debut as a director. He then dances around the house listening and singing along to James Brown’s “Down & Out in New York City”, while Marie tries to keep herself occupied with a boxed meal of mac and cheese. 

From the onset, the contradicting energy in the characters’ ardour is observant. Malcolm complains to Marie about how whenever a Black director makes a movie, the critics will always assume something political. And with that, the film is launched into its first monologue.    

The plot, slowly, builds around different elements, such as the authenticity of the entertainment industry and the prejudices against a Black film-maker. However, the main ingredient of Malcolm & Marie is, well, Malcolm and Marie. 

Malcolm’s fleeting state of triumph is soon torn apart when Marie reminds him that he forgot to mention her in tonight’s speech. She also asks for credit because she believes her story of drug addiction and dealing with depression inspired Malcolm to make the movie. Malcolm quickly rebuffs this claim by stating that he has met many girls like her. And thus, the “romantic reckoning” is initiated. 

Levinson has tried to give both the character’s equal screen time. But somehow, Malcolm’s egoistic presence outweighs Marie and her frustration in most scenes. The dueling monologues feel tedious and stretched out at one point as the plot progresses without establishing anything of importance. 

Now, why I think you should watch the movie is for the setting and locations it chose. The achromatic scale chosen for the cinematography beautifully accentuates the place wherein the film was shot. The overall appealing and aesthetically pleasing ambience might make a viewer forget to focus on the story (at least I did).

Although the screenplay is condemnable, Levinson’s direction is noteworthy. Alongside, Zendaya and Washington deliver a strong and brilliant performance that can easily be labelled as their best; the movie also features a dynamic soundtrack that adds gratification to some of the most important scenes in the storyline. 

Malcolm & Marie, despite being counted on, has received mediocre ratings and reviews from the critics. This could be due to Levinson’s take on them for being preferential or simply because the movie, after all, fails to live up to the audience’s expectations.

 


As a single parent to three cats, Zara often struggles to balance between being a part-time student and a full-time procrastinator.

 

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