As we draw closer to awards season late releases, like Malcom & Marie, will continue to drag out. Thankfully this year’s Academy Awards ceremony will not be held until April so most of those later releases might have more influence than films released in the fall of 2020 will. We saw that with 1917 last year. Malcolm & Marie is Zendaya’s second outing with Sam Levinson as writer and director, the first being HBO’s Euphoria. The film follows the title characters. a director and his girlfriend, and a night where their relationship is tested after coming home from his latest movie premiere.
Hands down, the highlight of Malcolm and Marie and really the only driving force for the movie as a whole is Zendaya Coleman. I’ve watched her since the beginning when she started on Disney Channel and it’s such a surreal moment to see her doing what she does SO WELL. The range of raw emotions and delivery of every single line is mad impressive. She’s most definitely the standout here. Opposite her, John David Washington gives a decent performance but does not even come close to matching the caliber of acting his co-star presents. Now, together I think they have some unforgettable chemistry that is beautifully displayed for the full hour and forty minute runtime. But it’s clear that this is Zendaya’s show.
But what drags this film down it its screenplay written by Levinson. It’s like he wanted to include every word he might’ve found in a thesaurus so he sounds more pretentious than he already does. I also think it’s extremely problematic for him to have used these two black actors to basically vent about his problems with and whine about film critics. That aside. the whole film is literally just a screaming match between the two at 2:00 in the morning repeating what they’ve already said but in different places in the house. I will say that I think the dialogue is nice the first time and I think it’s a great work of character study but the script is presented with a redundancy that could have been avoided by reducing its runtime. The film certainly also overstays its welcome and could’ve cut down at least 20-30 minutes of its monotony.
With that being said, the film’s use of black and white is a welcome choice and the camera is used in ways that aid in audiences maybe not feeling so claustrophobic with the only location being the house the couple are staying in. The first shot is one that I remember quite well and it has stuck with me since watching it last night. The score and soundtrack I think really elevated the film for me and definitely elevates the dialogue. The use of jazzy undertones and the injection of the songs from the 60s was a lovely addition.
Overall, there are things that I like more than some things but it’s ultimately a great showcase of Zendaya’s talent and power as an actress and proof that she’s in for great things.. hopefully in the near future!