Malcolm and Marie is a film which plays out in real time, and pretty much the first thing you see is Marie (Zendaya – Dune 2021) hitching up her skirt, to go to the toilet while still wearing high heeled shoes. Wouldn’t you first take them off in favour of slippers?
Anyhoo, it’s almost 1am and the pair have just returned from the premiere of Malcolm’s (John David Washington – Tenet), resulting in him dancing around the kitchen in happiness.
Having had no dinner all night, she makes Mac & Cheese for them to eat before going to bed, although she’s angry about something and she’s not quite letting on what it could be. It’s possible it’s down to the fact that he never thanked her during his pre-screening speech, yet thanked a zillion other people, or is there something else to it? In turn, he’s getting increasingly angry as events start to get to a head.
There’s some interesting direction early on, as Marie stays in the same position in the lounge area, while Malcolm walks all around the room. Meanwhile, the camera simply, occasionally, dollies back and forth to stay focused on him, when it’s not focused on her.
It’s amusing how Malcolm says that one critic referred to him as “The next Spike Lee“, given that John David Washington starred in Spike Lee’s Blackkklansman, plus there’s also references to 40 Acres and a Mule and Do The Right Thing, referencing Lee’s production company and one of his films, respectively.
However, having a two-hander is one way of making a film in lockdown (it appeared that way, and I later read it was shot June/July 2020), but you need a strong storyline for such a small cast to make last for nearly two hours.
What we get is endless introspective thought about their relationship in love and work, her trying to get clean after once being a drug addict, and everything that follows, but they’re not a very likeable couple, often shouting at each other.
JDW and Zendaya show they’re both good actors, but the story just isn’t the most engaging, and then gets a bit dull. In fact, it feels more like an ’80s overlong Calvin Klein or perfume advert, as they argue, make up, argue again, and so on.
And as I had that thought, I looked up Calvin Klein on Youtube and found the advert which I’ve linked below along with the trailer. It shows a couple where the man is a bit full of himself, and the woman is standoffish towards him. If you watch that, just add a number of f-words and you have Malcolm and Marie.
Malcolm and Marie is on Netflix now, but isn’t yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD.
Running time: 106 minutes
Release date: February 5th 2021
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (Super 35)
Director: Sam Levinson
Producers: Ashley Levinson, Sam Levinson, Kevin Turen, John David Washington, Zendaya
Screenplay: Sam Levinson
Malcolm: John David Washington
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.