At a glance, Malcolm and Marie are shallow industry folks; he’s a burgeoning film director and she’s his younger girlfriend/muse who is also an actress. We’ve seen these types of relationships in so many other films, where the successful, but arrogant man holds the power, and his partner is beautiful, quiet, and supportive. MALCOLM & MARIE dives into one big night in this type of relationship and dissects how these two folks came together and what keeps them coupled.
I imagine this film will probably play well in industry hubs like Los Angeles and New York, but will most likely lose the attention of the average movie-goer or Netflix binger. With just 2 actors, John David Washington (TENET) and Zendaya (EUPHORIA), and one location, MALCOLM & MARIE would fit perfectly on stage should writer/director Sam Levinson ever decide to take it there.
If you’ve ever gotten into long arguments about movies on social media (or in real life), you may also really appreciate this film. It feels like Levinson has had many of these conversations, written down every argument he’s had or heard about every movie, and worked them into the dialogue between the two characters. This sort of name-dropping will excite some audiences and bore others.
There was a lot of discussion on social media recently about the age difference between the two actors; he’s 36 and she’s 24. Yes, the trope of pairing up older men and younger women in Hollywood is an issue, but here it feels deliberate and necessary to the power-dynamic of the couple. These two are exactly the types that would date one another.
Washington and Zendaya are extraordinary. This is the strongest performance to date from each. Without their powerhouse performances, the film would fall completely flat, even to the biggest Hollywood insider wannabe.
MALCOLM & MARIE premieres today to stream on Netflix.