Malcolm and Marie, written and directed by Sam levinson, follows the tumultuous relationship between Malcolm, a narcissistic filmmaker, and Marie, his girlfriend and muse. impressively, the film was created entirely during the pandemic, using a crew of only around 20 people and minimizing filming locations. even though the setting of the film is confined to only a luxurious apartment, Malcolm & Marie is a visual treat nonetheless. it uses windows and doors as framing devices, portraying the characters in an aesthetically pleasing way. The monochromatic hues of the film remind viewers of old hollywood glamor. The cast comprises just two members: John David washington and Zendaya, two well-known actors who are no strangers to the world of hollywood. John David washington—who has performed excellently in roles such as the protagonist in Nolan’s Tenet, and Detective Ron Stallworth in BlacKkKlansman— fails to live up to the expectations set by his previous work.

Zendaya, on the other hand, shines in her role as Marie and seems to be caught in a typecast of playing depressed characters, as depicted by her role in the television series Euphoria. Nevertheless, Zendaya is a brilliant artist and drives the plot of the film meticulously with her performance. her type-casted role works well for her in this film as she embodies Marie’s depressive and high episodes, seeming that the role was written for her from the beginning, and rightly so. Given the film only features two characters, the dialogue between them is the essence of the film and is meant to be a tool to illustrate the highs and lows of the toxic relationship between Malcolm and Marie. On paper, the dialogue is well-written, but the delivery leaves much to be desired. The monologues by the characters often come out sporadic, and many lines of dialogue fail to evoke the emotions they intend to from the viewer. The tumultuous recession and the random escalation of tension are confusing.

 The film also delves into the dilemma of being a Black artist. Malcolm’s film receives an excellent review from a “white lady” critic, but this does not appease Malcolm. The critic, a Los Angeles Times writer seems to forget that Black individuals can exist solely as individuals without blackness affecting the point of view of their art. She points out the racism the protagonist experiences despite this not being part of Malcolm’s agenda. Malcolm is infuriated by this and delivers an extended monologue criticizing her, venting his pent-up frustration of not being understood as a Black filmmaker. There are conversations surrounding racism in Malcolm’s film, and Malcolm and Marie  talks about Malcolm’s experiences as a Black filmmaker who wants to break free from the shackles of just being viewed through the lens of race. There are a lot of films exploring this theme, but  this one stands out as it delves into racial discourse from a different perspective, where characters can be viewed just as individuals like any white character would be.

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