Despite being shot during the odds of the pandemic with minimal resources, Malcolm & Marie does not fail to captivate you. Set in a black & white theme, director Sam Levinson leaves no stone unturned to display the peaks and valleys of a relationship with an out-on-out aesthetic touch. Malcolm (John David Washington), a film director & Marie (Zendaya), his girlfriend return from the premiere of his applause-worthy film that was inspired by Marie’s life of a drug-addict, battling her fixation and his personal encounters. At the premiere, Malcolm remembers to thank everyone in his speech but her, which mentally bruises her and makes her overanalyze the situation. From silences to yawping, from making love to hurting each other with words, the plot catches you off-guard with iffy twists and turns. It gets a little political when the “super white moment” was getting appreciated by the white critics. The film queerly yet clearly highlights how we underestimate what we already have and that we don’t even dwell a second to appreciate it. Having said that, Levinson humanizes both the characters realistically – if Malcolm is narcissistic and self-absorbed, Marie also fans the flames and gets under his skin with harsh words. You will love and hate both the characters at equal intervals. Both are smart yet diabolical, contradicting their own virtues time and again. From insecurities to allegations, they unfold all their cards in one night. Both characters seem to have been travelling on an ego trip with no stable destination. You may not fight as intensely as them, but you will fitfully relate to them.
The film belongs to the stars
We bow down to the youngest Emmy-winner Zendaya for her raw, powerful and career-best acting. After Tenet and BlacKkKlansman, footballer-turned-actor John David Washington ups his scoreboard with a match-winning performance in this film. The script can appear to be a little superfluous but the titular couple defy all challenges by sparking up the screen. Euphoria director Sam Levinson’s masterful direction blends perfectly well with the skills of these talented actors.
About the age-gap
The 12-year-age gap between the lead stars could be a concern to a wide range of audiences. Being a Disney actress, Zendaya was always seen in teenage characters and this role challenges her to bring out the woman in her. To thwart the whispers, Zendaya confidently replies, “I am grown”. In the movie, she carries her character stunningly and we strongly demand to see more of Zendaya in such roles.
Ending could be mending
Levinson’s true intention was not to portray Marie fish for attention but to throw light on how Malcolm takes her for granted. However, the ending seems a bit wishy-washy with an inward-looking monologue by Marie. We expected a more winsome ending but from a non-filmy perspective, this can be excused as Levinson’s strategy to keep it on the ground and to prove that happy endings exist only in fairy tales.
WATCH OR NOT:
The vulnerable plot with a mirage of emotions will take you on a ride you don’t know what to expect from. You will not only learn the art to gain perspective about a person’s true intention, but you will also unlearn the art of letting go. The film may appear a little pesky, however the unclouded direction with an explicit screenplay backed by powerful performances definitely takes ‘Malcolm & Marie’ above mediocrity. You have to watch this film at least once to give a thunderclap to Zendaya and John David Washington.
– By Ayushi Lakhani