‘Malcolm & Marie:’ A Black and White Quarrel

‘Malcolm & Marie,’ Netflix’s latest film, is both a cinematic triumph and a repetitious moving picture that never ends.

Movie theatre chairs

Photo by Felix Mooneeram: Sam Levinson, the film's director, utilized multiple shot-scales to make the single-location movie more appealing to the audience.

By Isabella Dominesey | Idominesey@radford.edu

‘Malcolm & Marie,’ Netflix’s latest dramatic film, tells the story of heartbreak and love of a mercurial couple, all in the course of one night.

Released on Feb. 5, 2021, ‘Malcolm & Marie’ stars Emmy winner Zendaya and American actor John David Washington.

After returning home from Malcolm’s movie premier, Marie and Malcomb struggle throughout the night with multiple vocal arguments. They yell and scream at each other, stating all the things they resent about their relationship. This allowed watchers to not only hear about the characters’ current problems but learn about their pasts, both together and individually.

[epq-quote align=”align-left”]This allowed watchers to not only hear about the characters’ current problems but learn about their pasts, both together and individually.[/epq-quote]

When they weren’t fighting, which was rare for the pair, they would speak softly, apologizing—highlighting the toxicity that consumes their relationship.

Unsurprisingly, Zendaya’s acting is remarkable in the film. She shows us the in-depth feelings of her character, from empowered to insecure. 

Notably, John David Washington also dove deep into his role. I haven’t seen any of his films before, and all I have to say is I am glad I’ve now experienced him in his craft. He uses facial expressions and different vocal tones to portray the anger and betrayal felt by his character.

Sam Levinson, the film’s director, utilized multiple shot-scales to make the single-location movie more appealing to the audience.

[epq-quote align=”align-right”]Sam Levinson, the film’s director, utilized multiple shot-scales to make the single-location movie more appealing to the audience.[/epq-quote]

During select scenes, the audience watched the characters from the outside of the house as if we were just observers in their world. In others, the camera followed behind or in front of the actors as they moved.

Levinson’s use of the different shot-scales brought out Malcolm and Marie’s life in a way that the audience wouldn’t have seen without the camera movements. He also decided to film in only black and white, which is quite a change compared to most modern-day films.

Although there were many beautiful cinematic moments in ‘Malcomb & Marie,’ the plot of the movie itself was somewhat tedious.

The constant vocal brawl between the characters left little room for anything else. While I understand that the movie’s point was to capture the hardship they were facing, I couldn’t help but feel that it was anticlimactic.

While watching, I was waiting for something to happen; a plot twist, a change in scenery, a new character, something, anything, but it never came. The movie has a run time of an hour and 46 minutes, and somehow it feels like a marathon.

Again, it’s understandable that the film had a specific purpose, which wasn’t to make the audience laugh or smile. Still, a certain feeling of entertainment is expected while watching a movie.

[epq-quote align=”align-left”]Overall, ‘Malcolm & Marie’ is a beautiful film filled with dramatic highs and lows. However, I feel like there could have been more excitement. [/epq-quote]

Overall, ‘Malcolm & Marie’ is a beautiful film filled with dramatic highs and lows. However, I feel like there could have been more excitement. 

Zendaya and Washington had exquisite chemistry on screen, but it wasn’t highlighted enough.

SCORE: 6/10

I would recommend this movie to film students or anyone interested in the cinema industry due to its beautiful craftsmanship. However, this is definitely not for anyone looking just for a good time or a few laughs.