Malcolm And Marie Review: A Fractured Story Somewhat Saved By A Solid Chemistry

Looks like Zendaya and John David can make anything sail

On paper, the latest Netflix release Malcolm and Marie is the perfect watch– it has the perfect ambience, beautiful cinematography, amazing stars like Zendaya and John David Washington as well as Sam Levinson (creator of HBO’s Euphoria) as the brains behind it. But when this gets transferred to screen, this black-and-white beauty soon loses its charm as the couple jumps from one fight to the next, interspersed with erratic makeout sessions in the span of one night that make as much sense as does the monochromatic colour scheme of the film. 

So, the base story of Malcolm and Marie is very simple. Spanned across one night and the following dawn, we see Malcolm (John David Washington) and his girlfriend, Marie (Zendaya) return to their elite Malibu home after the premiere of his first Hollywood film that he has written, produced and directed. It is the “biggest night” of his life but Marie is pissed because he forgot to thank her in his speech, the inspiration for the film, while he yammered about practically everyone else. 

Thus when they return, the atmosphere is understandably icey though Malcolm, lost in his narcissistic stupor, takes a long time to notice. They bicker for a while, launch insults at each other, only to make out for a few seconds and then again fight for a while. This pattern follows throughout Malcolm and Marie where the couple argues about everything under the sun, ranging from sexism, racism, the art of filmmaking, how Malcolm used Marie to steal her life story, why didn’t he cast her, how Marie is self-harming herself, and blah, blah, and then more blah. 

And yes, they keep making out in between because Levinson thought it would be an artistic and intimate way to stop their incessant argument from getting monotonous and dragged. Well, guess what, mission drastically failed. 

It’s not that Malcolm and Marie is unrealistic as on the contrary, many couples have undergone such turbulent nights in their relationship where it is always teetering on the edge of either ending or patching up. But just because it is real doesn’t mean it makes for good cinema. It’s akin to making a film about someone breathing throughout the day just because it’s not fictional. 

So, as Malcolm and Marie bicker through the night, using each other as their personal dartboards, and then forgetting their fights at the first mention of getting intimate, the only solace you will find in Malcolm and Marie is how perfectly Zendaya and John David Washington are playing even the flawed script. The passion with which they fight and the ease they exude is something reel couples rarely manage to put across through the screen. It’s them which makes it possible to sit through one of the most abhorred mishaps life could throw at you– to get caught between two bickering partners.

Malcolm & Marie is currently streaming on Netflix.

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