The Film: Malcolm & Marie

Zendaya (HBO’s Euphoria) and John David Washington (Blackkklansman, Tenet) made a secret film in quarantine – Malcolm & Marie:

On Monday, March 16, Levinson received the call from HBO that Euphoria’s Season 2 had to shut down. I understand that one night during quarantine, Zendaya phoned him and asked if he could write and direct a movie during quarantine. Within six days, Levinson had cracked Malcolm & Marie. When it came to thinking about who could spar with Zendaya, Levinson kept seeing and hearing in his head BlacKkKlansman Golden Globe nominee and Tenet star Washington. (Deadline)

Malcolm & Marie‘s release date is February 5 on Netfilx. This looks like one to watch:

Synopsis: A director and his girlfriend’s relationship is tested after they return home from his movie premiere and await critics’ responses.

For me Malcolm & Marie has everything I could want in an indie film:

  • black & white images
  • moodiness
  • sexiness
  • romance off the rails
  • nothing but dialogue
  • one setting
  • john david washington (and his dance moves)

Initial (Twitter) Reactions from Critics

Anne Thompson, Editor at Large, IndieWire: 
Zendaya runs away with Sam Levinson’s black-and-white Cassavetes-inspired two hander Malcolm & Marie. She could steal the Best Actress Oscar from another @netflix contender, Viola Davis, for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. It’s a two way race now. Wow.

Candice Frederick, Film/TV journalist:
I still think the age difference is… awkward. But, my word, the bareness of #MalcolmAndMarie is incredible. The constant questions about one’s artistry and relevance within a relationship as well as through their public sphere is deeply resonant.

Clayton Davis, Film Awards Editor, Variety 
John David Washington and Zendaya are fire in MALCOLM & MARIE. The two bring devotion and energy to their roles, both of which can find room in the #Oscars race. Beautiful camera work. Dialogue leaves much to be desired but many will dig it.

Erik Davis, Managing Director, Fandango
Zendaya & John David Washington deliver powerhouse performances in #MalcolmAndMarie, a monologue-heavy romantic drama that’s ultimately about being a better partner & wow do they put it all out on the table. It’s angry, soulful & sweet & the music cues are the absolute best.

Both stars have some dynamite moments in this film, but Zendaya is on another level, and you won’t be able to take your eyes off her. Such a commanding performance — I think she becomes an immediate #Oscars front runner the moment this film drops. She’s outstanding.

And while the film is very much about love & respect & appreciation & forgiveness, it also has a lot to say about criticism — about how to accept it & how it can ruin you if you let it. Man, what I would give to watch the two of them perform this live on stage. Well done.

My Take

zendaya john david washington malcolm & marie film

I loved how phenomenal it was
I loved the Old Hollywood vibe juxtaposed with Young Hollywood energy
I loved interplay between the actors
I loved how the passionate dialogue revealed the shape of their relationship
I loved how Marie called Malcolm “an emotional terrorist” (entirely true)
I loved how Marie is also one
I love how how brilliant Zendaya is in her acting
I loved the tempo of the emotions – highs were high and lows were low
I loved the soundtrack and how the music was like a third character
I loved the camera movements and intricate cinematography
I loved the film’s wisdom and confidence… and vulnerability
I loved the discussion about black art in the context of white film criticism
I loved the depiction of a temperamental, sensitive artist
I loved…

malcolm and marie zendaya john david washington netflix

Everyone is excited about this film, and so am I. What about you?

P.S. Watch it and then pair it with some music about love and lost: 5 Songs on Repeat (Vol 2)