“Malcolm and Marie” Review

Story posted February 9, 2021 in Covid-19 by Sam Roberts.

Written and directed by Sam Levinson, “Malcolm and Marie” is a film that shows us what it’s like to fight with someone because you love them. John David Washington and Zendaya, the only two actors in the film, display that love on screen with an entire range of emotions to reflect the emotions Levinson felt while writing this film.

“Malcolm and Marie” takes place in one night and one location after the premier of Washington’s character’s, Malcom, first film, which is going to make him a name in the filmmaking industry. The film that Malcolm makes is loosely based off his girlfriend Marie’s life, who is played by Zendaya.

The entire film, the two go back-and-forth fighting, loving and hating each other, over the fact that Malcolm thanked everybody but her in his speech.

Washington and Zendaya are able to display jealousy, anger, sadness, joy, frustration, regret, passion, violence, and love all in the hour and 40 minutes of the film and their talent is truly put-on display. The movie flourishes without any supporting cast because Washington and Zendaya are so strong at carrying the weight of the film on their shoulders.

The directing style of Levinson is what makes this film so unique and such a joy to watch. With a ton of dolly shots, long takes, and use of the steady cam, the emotion of the film is completely captured on camera.

Levinson opens up with a 10 minute long take that follows a dolly on the side of the house and gives the audience the layout of the scene as Malcolm walks around the house with excitement over the premier. After that, Levinson switches to the steady cam to put capture the duality of emotions between Malcolm and Marie and puts the audience in the middle of their fight.

Levinson also chose to put the entire movie in black and white and as the film progresses the audience is shown how when you’re fighting with someone you love there is no clear black and white view of who is wrong and who is right.

In Malcolm and Marie, Levinson also takes us into the mind of a filmmaker and a filmmaker’s spouse. Washington’s character Malcolm goes through a range of emotions when dealing with the critics, the inspiration of his story, and the people who are with him along the way.

A big part of Malcolm’s arc is the fact that critics will look at a film and try and make it political when the filmmaker uses socio-political ideas to drive his characters and his plot. He goes on a rant about how filmmakers aren’t necessarily making political films and how critics turn it into something that the filmmaker didn’t intend.

This whole idea felt really personal to Levinson and was a meta-commentary on this film, his past films, and all films where characters deal with socio-political obstacles.

By the end of the film, there is no protagonist or antagonist because it shows the audience how there is no winner in a fight of any kind. The film does not have a lesson by the end, but that is the whole point of the film and Levinson, Zendaya, and Washington put that on perfect display for us.

Rating: 5/5

Sam Roberts is a junior majoring in telecommunications. To contact him, email sam.robertspsu00@gmail.com.