"Malcolm & Marie"

John David Washington and Zendaya in the movie "Malcolm & Marie."

“Malcom and Marie,” a film released Feb 5. on Netflix, takes its audience on an emotional rollercoaster around the honest and ugly side of a romantic relationship.

If you are going through a breakup or coming out of a toxic relationship, “Malcolm and Marie” may not be the movie for you. Trigger warning: this film is emotionally draining and exhausting.

“Malcom and Marie” is one hour and 46 minutes of toxic dysfunction and as an independent film is described as “intimate and emotional” by Netflix. The movie is rated R for “pervasive language” and “sexual content” on Netflix, which fits the ongoing theme.

Malcom, played by John David Washington, is a new filmmaker who is elated for his first award at his movie premiere. He goes home with his girlfriend Marie (Zendaya Coleman) who is clearly not in a celebratory mood. Malcom notices Marie’s sour mood and tries to figure out what is wrong with her as he awaits movie critics to post their critiques online. In Marie’s attempt to de-escalate the situation, their relationship issues are exposed and explored throughout the night.

Director and writer Sam Levinson utilizes close up shots and black and white film throughout the entire movie to capture dialogue and emotions. Washington and Zendaya’s performances are emotional, and portrays the arguments as real and genuine. Lenvison incorporates the struggles of filmmakers in the dialogue when Malcom complains about movie critics' judgments.

The entire movie takes place in one setting, the couple’s home and the dialogue is dense to compensate for the lack of settings in the film. The film’s score, composed by Charles Bramesco, works to elevate emotional and silent scenes. The film also discusses the harsh criticism from movie critics and the struggles for up and coming Black filmmakers such as constantly being compared to other Black filmmakers in the industry.

The acting in the film is authentic and believable, and the portrayal of relationships was real and honest. The actors embodied their roles and conveyed emotion well. As they walked into the house in the beginning of the movie and throughout the night, the side of a relationship that is seen in public is peeled back and their flaws are exposed.

The entire film is in black and white as a way to ensure the focus stays solely on the couple’s emotions and dialogue. This perspective fulfills the purpose of the movie, a portrayal of a genuine, relationship testing argument. The couple’s movements through the ups and downs of their fight are choreographed well.

The movement in the film was necessary because they were in one setting, and it also gave the audience a chance to see Malcolm and Marie alone to digest who they are as individuals. The close up shots and angles clearly express the couple’s emotions of anger, frustration and isolation.

The dialogue of the film is dense and intense, which helps express the emotions of the relationship and each individual's personal issues. Throughout the argument, Malcom rants about his frustrations of being compared to other black directors and how black films are accused of having a political motive. The music in the film when no one is speaking balances the wordy dialogue. The dialogue and emotions clearly depict the exhaustion of a toxic relationship.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

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