Malcolm & Marie – Review

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Malcolm & Marie is the first Hollywood film to undergo all stages, from pre-production to post-production, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Through it, Sam Levinson (Assassination Nation) as director and scriptwriter, shows the ability to turn boundaries into space for exploration, even though in the end, weakness comes from things that are not related to the limitations caused by the pandemic.

Only two actors plus one location (a maximum of 12 people can be on set), instead of being monotonous, the film feels intimate. Wearing black and white also helps, when the lighting and make-up are not as good as usual (the two main characters are responsible for their own costumes and make-up). And in the hands of cinematographer Marcell Rév, visual beauty is brought out by the high contrast black and white style. Top Movie Site

Once upon a time, Malcolm (John David Washington) was blooming. His latest film premiere (he is a director and writer) was a huge success. Arriving at the mansion in Malibu that was rented out by the studio, he immediately poured a drink, turned on the music as loud as he could, then danced with enthusiasm while bursting with euphoria. But we know, the lover, Marie (Zendaya), doesn’t feel that way. He was standing outside smoking, putting on a cold face. Something was bothering him. Well, more like “a lot.”

Malcolm continued to joke, including about how after the premiere, he met several critics, who called him “The Next Spike Lee” and “The Next Barry Jenkins”. Malcolm was not satisfied. “Why not The Next William Wyler?” He asked, before discussing at length the tendency of critics to associate black filmmakers with racial issues. Malcolm was embarrassed, because he only wanted to make a drama that could be enjoyed by everyone, instead of a political spectacle. “But your next movie is Angela Davis’ biopic”, replied Marie.

The debate over the political content of film is one of Malcolm & Marie’s best and most honest points. Surely this was Levinson’s own embarrassment, which he channeled through his character. Regarding how many critics these days push themselves too much to appear “woke”, to the question of representation. One of the suggestions criticized the “male gaze” in the film Malcolm, which talks about the struggles of women who are drug addicts. For Malcolm, it was okay for a storyteller to see things through his perspective. It feels meta, because here, Levinson is a white person making a film about a black couple.

Apart from the above problems, the main conflict remains about two lovers, who are both personally troubled, so that once the fight breaks out, both of them repeatedly destroy each other, but still love each other. Sound serious? Of course. Moreover, Malcolm & Marie were filled with screams. But as a variation, from time to time, Levinson inserts a witty sentence, which also serves to keep Malcolm and Marie’s romanticism, amidst their destructive commotion. Best Movie

Unfortunately, the quality of Levinson’s writing is inconsistent. On the one hand, he is good at inserting information in order to enrich the character, plus a little surprise between the yells. The more information comes in, the more difficult it is to determine who to side with, because in truth, Malcolm & Marie is not about “who-is-wrong”, not about individuals, but about human pairs. The problem with the script lies in the neatness of the structure.

There are times when one fight with the next is not given an adequate transition. As if Levinson was just making a checklist of things that should be discussed. It is not uncommon for the film to get lost in the middle of endless overlapping sentences. It is true that when it comes to authenticity there is no regularity in quarrels. When controlled by emotions, a person tends to be impulsive, throwing things out without control. But isn’t that the art of script writing? Where chaos should be presented neatly, without losing the authentic impression.

As a result, Malcolm & Marie often felt tiring. Fortunately, Levinson is not a mediocre director. He has a sensitivity that is effective in building romance, intimacy, to elegant sensuality. Most importantly, the film has a heart. The climax was after all the complaints had been thrown, when Malcolm & Marie emphasized its substance. Simple point, but one of the main foundations of a relationship: Value your partner.

Of course the film would not have succeeded without Washington and Zendaya. They are like two poles opposite. Washington as Malcolm was more aggressive, looking so powerful with big expressions and gestures. But it was clear that every anger, arrogance, and enthusiasm came from weakness. On the other hand, Zendaya as Marie is like a fragile figure, but never falters. While still with her cold gaze, Marie seemed bigger than Malcolm, who continued to launch attacks. It is this contradiction that shows how strong the two of them feel. Similar to the tagline, they’re madly in Love. Movie Review

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