Can This Relationship Be Saved?
I am glad writer/director Sam Levinson (TVís Euphoria) decided to make a 2-character black & white movie. Why? Because he ended up with Malcolm & Marie, a riveting film about the power of abusive words. And I also found his skewering of film criticism (ouch!) to be one of this movieís highlights.
John David Washington (BlackKKKlansman) and Zendaya (The Greatest Showman) look terrific as the title couple. Plus, both give realistic portrayals of a man and woman who reveal their deepest thoughts and feelings about each otherís faults during one memorable argument unfolding amid sporatic lovemaking. All this takes place in a glamorous house that adds to the filmís visual quality.
Washington delivers an energetic performance as Malcolm, and while Zendaya endows Marie with a more introverted personality, her character is not afraid to be candid with her ambitious boyfriend.
Filmmaker and his girlfriend fight.
They shoot barbs on a special night.
Returning from his first premiere,
his girlfriend fails to show much cheer.
In his speech he didnít thank her.
Now sheís filled with so much rancor.
ďI forgot,Ē the filmmaker pleads.
Not the answer the girlfriend needs.
This starts a diatribe for two.
Who is right and what can they do?
Brutal words work their power now
in this black-and-white movie. Wow!
Film critics get criticized here
in a tirade thatís fun to hear.
The two actors deserve my praise.
And so to them a glass I raise!
Everything seems so real in this unusual offering. I almost felt like a fly on the wall while watching these two characters discuss their innermost feelings. Marie, a recovering drug addict, earned my empathy the minute she asked Malcolm why he didnít thank her in his speech after his movie was shown at the premiere. ďYou thanked about a hundred other people,Ē she throws at him.
Later, we learn that Marie wanted to be an actress, so she wonders why Malcolm didnít cast her in his film. She even questions him about taking total credit for the movie when itís about a drug addict like her. She accuses him of stealing her life. (Please watch for how Marie shows Malcolm his movie could have been more authentic if she had been given the starring role. Zendaya is at her fabulous best in that part of the movie!)
But Malcolm has problems of his own. Heís upset because a white film critic told him he is on the way to being a famous director like Spike Lee. Malcolm resents being thought of only as a black director. ďWhy didnít she say a director like William Wyler,Ē he complains to Marie and then goes into the tirade I mentioned in the poem above. Because Malcolm is so sensitive about this, he canít even appreciate a rave review.
Can this relationship be saved? Donít worry, romance fans. Perhaps Levinsonís film is merely a peek into a few hours spent with Malcolm & Marie. Personally, Iím hoping for a sequel. Are you up for that, Mr. Levinson?
(Released by Netflix and rated ďRĒ by MPAA.)