Minimal story brings maximum performance in ‘Malcolm and Marie’


Ashley Husain, Reporter

Containing cycling regret, self-loathing and lust in a whirlpool of a single argument that manages deep cutting internal human emotions of a relationship, “Malcolm and Marie” delivers high-strung emotions despite its lackluster plot and script. 

Filmed in black and white at the Caterpillar House in California, this film centers around filmmaker Malcolm and his girlfriend Marie as tensions rise over his ground-breaking film, yanking the roots of their romance. 

A series of heated quarrels and revelations of the insecurities, internal conflicts and debate of filmmaking revolves around one huge argument that is split into different scenes throughout the movie. The behavior and interactions of Malcolm (John David Washington) and Marie (Emmy award winner Zendaya) span into a seemingly endless cycle. This repetitive behavior is the entire premise of the film and creates a bit of a dull and predictable atmosphere, though the performance definitely makes up for it. In their heated arguments and remorseful moments, the actors deliver performances that are conveyed with such gut-wrenching emotion that it almost transports you into the recipient’s mind and heart. The chemistry between Malcolm and Marie was present throughout the film. Each actor meticulously delivers each line with vigor and vulnerability that anchors the movie’s insipid dialogue.

The film has faced controversy with 24-year-old Zendaya playing an adult in a movie with such explicit content rather than teen in a movie made for a kid or teenager audience. When she was 14,  Zendaya made her first debut on television in Disney Channel’s “Shake It Up,” set in Chicago. When she was 20, she continued to play the roles of teenagers, like her role as Michelle Jones in the Spider-Man movies and Rue Bennette in “Euphoria.” She states that this controversy is most likely due to her being on screen as a child and audiences not used to viewing her as an adult. Zendaya and Mr. Washington are also 12 years apart, which has further raised controversial issues. Despite the backlash, Mr. Washington assures that Zendaya is brilliant in this adult role and performance. 

At 1 hour and 46 minutes, “Malcolm and Marie” is rated R (for pervasive language and sexual content) and is on Netflix. While the film’s repetitive foundation may not be appealing in terms of the story line, the actors’ brilliant performance and chemistry uplifts the predictable plot to a more engaging watch.