If you watched Netflix’s Malcolm & Marie, you may be entitled to compensation for the emotional labor you were forced into for two whole hours of exhausting relationship dynamics. As people smarter than me have already concluded: this is NOT a love story. So, if you want into this thinking you were about to see a romance, you were sorely disappointed and I’m sorry for you. But no, this was not a love story. Malcom & Marie was two hours of voyeurism as we peeped into an emotionally-charged night in the lives of two damaged people in a race to the bottom, competing to see who could hurt the other the most. It was painful to watch. It was also incredibly beautiful.
My boyfriend and I watched the movie together. He always teases me by saying that I am a fan of movies and shows with lots of words, lol. What can I say? My man tells no lies. I’m guilty! I am a lover of rich dialogue. But this was a lot, even for me. I knew that dialogue would be the focus of the film when I learned that the two main characters are the only people we see on screen for the whole movie. While I was watching, I kept wondering how it was humanly possible for John David Washington and Zendaya to remember so many words. And to not only recite them, but deliver them with such emotion and intensity. I couldn’t do it! But that’s why they get paid the big bucks and I don’t, I guess.
The cinematography was phenomenal. There were moments that I said out loud “Omg, I love this shot!”. And I think they did a great job with lighting, especially for someone with John David’s skintone. Somebody knew how to light Black skin, even in a black and white picture(!), and that made me happy. It also doesn’t hurt that John David Washington is an absolutely gorgeous man and Zendaya is very interesting to look at. Between the fabulous interior of the house, the exterior shots, and the long scenes up close and personal with the two of them, I was visually stimulated the entire time.
As for the storyline. Ugh. It was nasty. As nasty as that boxed mac and cheese! Anyone who has ever been in an unhealthy and toxic romantic relationship was certainly triggered. In the opening scenes, when John David is manically animated, running all over the house while Zendaya is standing perfectly still, taking long drags off her cigarette and completely unphased by his excitement, I knew we were in for an emotional rollercoaster. Malcolm kept asking Marie what was wrong and wouldn’t take “nothing” for an answer. When Marie said there was no point in going into it because nothing productive would’ve come out of a conversation that night, I felt that in my spirit. Been there, sis! But, he kept pushing! Insisting she was angry even when she said she didn’t want to talk about it. And then when he finally pushed her to say what was on her mind, he didn’t hear her anyway, lol. Typical! Man, I wanted Marie to walk out of the house and never look back SO MANY TIMES. It got to the point that I was screaming “Run! Lock the door!” atthe Marie through the tv like I was watching a horror movie. And in a way, I suppose I was. Cause, God, their relationship was a total nightmare. Like, lil sis, get out while you still can. This man doesn’t appreciate you and he never will. Wasting your youth on an ain’t ish ninja. But maybe this is just a rite of passage in a way and it’s something she has to go through to come out on the side as a better, smarter, tougher person. At least that’s how it worked for me. But maybe I’m projecting…
The movie raised a lot of questions for me. Questions like: How much credit should an artist give to his muse? How much of your story is your own? What if your story isn’t as unique as you thought it was? Will your partner always see you as who you once were and not who you’ve grown to be? What do you do when your partner has no respect for you? How do you ever recover from a night like that? Where do you go from there? Is good sex enough to hold a relationship together? Would Marie still have been as resentful of Malcolm if he had thanked her in his speech? How can an actress stay with her director husband who doesn’t cast her in his movie about her life?? Just… a lot of questions, but I don’t have the energy to go further, lol.
A few other things. Wtf was the powdered mac and cheese about? Her man… her Black man… is riding high on the best night of his life and you pull out a box of Kraft cheese and macaroni? Her burning question is does he want salted or unsalted butter? No, Marie. No! Fixing plates like that, all that tells me is that she doesn’t love him and she doesn’t love herself. This story takes place in California, I assume. They could’ve at least gone to In N Out or something lol. But maybe the mac and cheese was symbolic? I consider myself to be pretty smart, but I gotta admit I’m lost on the message they sent with the powdered mac and cheese.
I could’ve done without the monologues about the film industry and the rejection of being “political” in one’s art.
Oh, also, the scene where Marie takes the knife, confesses that she smashed the homies, and reverts to her old junkie ways… the boo and I think that was all acting to prove Marie had the chops to play the role Malcolm gave to Taylor. However, apparently some people think Marie actually smashed the homies. Hmm… I guess we’ll never know.
Bottom line, the movie is worth watching. We honestly need more movies like this. Artsy-fartsy, intellectual dramas, with actors who are as capable as they are attractive. Yes, I wouldn’t be mad at more of this. While this movie is not an instant classic for me, it was very well done in an uncomfortable way. What an emotional rollercoaster! I’d like to watch it again at least once more because I know I missed some nuances on my first viewing.
Okay, that’s all I’ve got. What did I miss? What did YOU think? Let’s talk about it!