Malcolm & Marie (2021)
IMDb rating: 6.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 58%
Sam Levinson directs John David Washington and Zendaya in this black-and-white romantic drama that plays out like an homage to Hollywood movies from the 50s. Washington plays Malcolm, a filmmaker whose autobiographical movie has just premiered. He and his (much younger) girlfriend, actress Marie, retreat to their home in Malibu to await the first reviews for the movie.
As they’re unwinding from the premiere, their relationship starts slowly to unravel as they address their issues with one another. There’s a lot of arguing, accusations fly, and nothing is comfortable or easy between them.
Critics have been divided on the success of Levinson’s movie, which features only these two characters. Boston Globe praises the skilled cinematography, which allows the house to emerge as a third character: “Marcell Rév’s cinematography manages to look luxurious yet chaste. It acts as a kind of shock absorber for all the emotion. The house does, too. Call its style Modern Recessive Nondescript: lots of open space, hard surfaces (metal, glass, stone). It’s such a presence it’s practically a third character: blank and accepting and nonjudgmental, as neither of the principals are. Levinson skillfully uses the spaciousness of the house — it has a nice deck, too — to keep the staginess of the setup from ever feeling stage bound.”
Levinson also directed Zendaya in Euphoria, and, like Washington, whose father is Denzel, Levinson is from Hollywood royalty, as the son of Barry Levinson, whose movies include 1988’s Rain Man. This gives the film a convincing sense of coming from a Hollywood-industry insider.
Filmspotting writes that Malcolm & Marie is “exactly what its characters are: occasionally brilliant, often infuriating, mostly – as one of the two describes the other – exhausting.”
More like this: