By Justina Bonilla
Netflix’s Malcolm and Marie is a cinematic melodrama, which pulls away the curtain of Hollywood glamour, to reveal the drama of a couple that seemingly has it all.
Netflix’s 30 million dollars acquired film features two of Hollywood’s most in-demand actors, John David Washington as Malcolm and Zendaya as Marie, with Sam Levinson as the film’s director, writer, and producer. The behind the camera talent, including cinematographer Marcell Rév, production designer Michael Grasley, and editor Julio Perez IV, have worked with Levinson before on the popular award-winning HBO series, Euphoria, for which Zendaya received an Outstanding Actress Emmy award.
Perez’s editing style is best displayed in the action-comedy films American Made and Assassination Nation and the critically acclaimed horror films It Follows and His House. His editing, mixed with Rév’s cinematography, on 35mm film, gives Malcolm and Maire a visual feel of a classic Hollywood film. They distinctively and beautifully combined the use of shadows maximizing a small area, typical of the 1940s/1950s Film Noir and the editing of French New Wave. For instance, the Film Noir influence can be seen in Washington’s dance scene, where the camera is filming him from the outside of the home, looking inside through the window. While the French New Wave influence can be seen during the fast editing of the cuddle scene between Malcolm and Marie, as they talk and laugh about filmmaking.
Malcolm and Marie follows a couple who has just arrived after the successful film premiere of Malcolm’s directorial debut. While Malcolm is on cloud nine, Marie is upset over Malcolm forgetting to thank her in his acceptance speech. This lack of acknowledgment leads the couple down a rabbit hole, revealing the layers of manifested resentment that the couple has against each other.
The acting in this film beautifully resembles the presentation of a live play. Though Malcolm and Marie has repeatedly been compared to Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf, it’s far more similar to Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, with Elizabeth Taylorand Paul Newman. Like Taylor, Zendaya initially expresses more vulnerability through her words and clothing. Both women are in intimate apparel when around their men, revealing a part of themselves only to their men. While Newman and Washington love their women, both are too stubborn and unwilling to acknowledge the issues creating friction in the relationships. The men also stayed relatively dressed, as though they were also trying to non-verbally hide their vulnerability.
Malcolm and Marie challenge the love clichés that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in Hollywood films and TV, reminding us that love is more than just a four-letter word.
Malcolm and Marie premieres on February 5, 2021, exclusively on Netflix.
Director/writer: Sam Levinson Stars: John David Washington, Zendaya Rating: R Running Time: 1hr 46m Genres: Drama, Romance