A review of Sam Levinson’s ‘Malcom and Marie’

Michelle Cullen


Malcolm and Marie is a cinematic masterpiece with powerful performances by Zendaya (Marie) and John David Washington (Malcolm).

The film follows a turbulent relationship between the two characters after Malcolm gets his first taste of success following the premiere of his latest film based on his girlfriend Marie’s life. 

The film reveals the links between Malcolm’s success and Marie’s struggle to cope with depression and drug abuse as he uses her story to create his film.

Marie confronts Malcolm for not recognising all that she has contributed to his success and how he does not appreciate all she has done for him by giving him her story.

In the film, Malcolm goes on an explosive rant about critics in modern-day filmmaking and how they do not just critique the film but analyse the people behind the creation of the work. 

He shows his frustration that he cannot cast a black lead without white critics saying the film is taking a political stance. He poses the question that if the cast was in fact white no one would make these comments.

This long rant about the LA Times critic may be a nod to the director and writer Sam Levinson’s own experience with bad reviews from LA Times for his film Assassination Nation. 

The piece was filmed during the COVID-19 pandemic with a small cast of just two people and a crew of ten. 

Cast and crew showed a new way of filming life as they had to quarantine for two weeks together before filming. During this time Washington and Zendaya rehearsed for filming in a nearby car park.

The filming of the entire movie took two weeks showing the brilliance of shooting a film in one location with a cast of two people.

Artist Labyrinth who recently won an Emmy for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics composed some of the music used in the film.

The cinematography of Marcel Rév makes the film what it is. At any moment in the film, you could pause the screen and have a beautiful picture to frame. 

Zendaya’s performance as Marie was authentic and raw. She has shown once again her powerful acting skills following her recent Emmy award for Outstanding Drama Lead for her role as Rue in HBO’s dark school drama Euphoria, becoming the youngest woman to ever receive the award.

John David Washington embodied Malcolm showing the passion and fire that Malcolm has as an aspiring filmmaker. He brought life to an otherwise dull character. 

The use of black and white filming shows the monotone feeling throughout the film. Critics have said you could pause the film 20 minutes in and would still have the same conclusion. At times the film can appear to be on loop as the plot circles around.

This is the type of film where you can look away and miss nothing.

Overall, the cinematography, acting, and music are impressive however the storyline can become repetitive and boring.

Michelle Cullen

Image credit: Netflix

Note: This article was reuploaded on 26/03/2021 due to a fault with The College View website.