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Malcolm and Marie Review

After a slight delay, awards season is finally in full swing. With the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards have announced their nominations, one film, which has garnered some well-deserved buzz, is surprisingly missing from the lists of nominees – Malcolm and Marie.

Written and directed by Sam Levinson, who brought us the addicting HBO show Euphoria, this film is an interesting one to be sure, as it is the first Hollywood film to have been written and shot during the COVID-19 pandemic. Malcolm and Marie see a couple played by John David Washington and Zendaya return from the premiere of the new film directed by Malcolm.

When we first see the title character, Malcolm, is celebrating his successful night by drinking and dancing while Marie is preparing to make macaroni and cheese. From the get-go, the film hints that there is something wrong just below the surface of this otherwise incredible occasion, with one of several conflicts being bought front and center very quickly. The night of celebration that Malcolm had planned quickly morphs into a night of arguments and the couple seeing who can verbally and emotionally hurt the other more.

Where the writing in the film sometimes falls flat, the performances of Zendaya and Washington really soar, taking what may seem a simple film and making it much more complex. Marie, who we learn is a former addict and that she had given up a career in acting, is beautifully brought to life by Zendaya, in a performance that captures the struggles of past demons as well as loving someone who seems to have changed. John David Washington has, in my opinion, killed it again with his role of Malcolm, a director who seems to have finally gotten his big break with a film that may be less original than he believes. Washington really shines the more his character drinks, staggering through the house, trying harder to concentrate, and quickly changing from loving to hostile. The moment that really stood out for me is when Malcolm gets a review that he was unhappy with, even though it praised his direction. As he is reading through the review, he goes on a drunken, profanity-laced rant, screaming and flailing all while Marie is grinning and quietly laughing at the display. The energy that Washington brings not only to this whole movie but this scene, in particular, should have snagged him his second nomination for both the Golden Globes and the SAG awards.

All in all, Malcolm and Marie is a film that is all about the struggles of a seemingly doomed relationship, with each party trying to one-up the other in arguments. Zendaya and John David Washington bring the title characters to life in performances that deserve praise as well as recognition this awards season. For those who have Netflix and wish to watch a film with not only an engrossing story but wonderful character studies as well, I highly recommend Malcolm and Marie.

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