Malcolm & Marie (2021)

6 Jun

Smith’s Verdict: ***1/2

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

If you felt uncomfortable watching the lengthy argument scenes in films such as “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolff,” “Before Midnight,” and “Marriage Story”…this film is definitely not for you. However, if you’re looking for a film about a couple testing each other’s love, with solid characterization, brilliant acting, and skillful direction, you can’t go wrong streaming “Malcolm & Marie,” available on Netflix.

John David Washington and Zendaya play a filmmaker named Malcolm and his supportive girlfriend named Marie. They’ve just returned home from the premiere of Malcolm’s latest film. Marie lets Malcolm know pretty quickly that something is bothering her. What is she upset about? Well, she says it’s because he didn’t thank her in his speech to the audience–even though he thanked his parents and his elementary school teachers and an usher at a theater he worked at as a kid (that last one might not have been real) but neglected to mention her. It’s also indicated that Malcolm’s film was inspired by her in a sense (and she also supported him every step of the way making this film).
This escalates into a fight where both egos go at it with each other…but it’s only the beginning. It’s going to get worse and worse and worse…

Like I said, it gets pretty uncomfortable. But it’s also fascinating to watch both these extremely talented actors show off their extreme talents, guided by the deeply layered screenplay by director Sam Levinson (who also directed Zendaya in the series “Euphoria”). I wasn’t even halfway through the 106-minute running time when I was getting genuinely concerned how this long night was going to end!

Will this couple stay together? Will they separate? Do they deserve each other? What does that even mean??

I also have to give kudos to Levinson and his crew for making this film under the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

Oh, and this film also delivers a LOT of shots at film critics (including a lengthy tirade by Malcolm about a POSITIVE review!) as a way of a character distracting himself from the real issue at hand. And I’m just assuming by the film’s mere 58% on Rotten Tomatoes that some critics aren’t responding to that very well…you do know that if you’re going to get offended at JOKES towards critics, you’re proving the movie right, don’t you?

Bottom line: “Malcolm & Marie” is a darkly sardonic, sharply written, brilliantly acted look into the longest night of this couple’s life.

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