The moment we’ve all been waiting for since they announced this film sometime in the mist of the chaos of the pandemic that destroyed our outside routine last year. Watch and then I will dive in.
So before anything, as I started to watch this trailer, I thought the argument stemmed from the mac and cheese Marie (Zendaya) was making after whatever fancy event they’d just come from. Thanks to a Deadline article, I learned I was wrong. Let me paint a clear picture for you. Follow me here….
Imagine you and your husband/wife are at the Emmys or Oscars or the BET Awards (yes, it’s an awards show that has stature). You both are sitting in a sea of people from Spike Lee to Meryl Streep and you’ve spent all night applauding other performers and winners. The moment is finally here. Your category is called! They go through the formalities and tensions rise. You look longingly at your mate because you know the next few moments can change their lives. Here it comes…the opening of the envelope and hopefully this isn’t a LaLa Land/Moonlight moment. They open the envelope and they announce YOUR WIFE/ HUSBAND’S NAME! You kiss their face and they run on stage to accept their award. Flustered and filled with excitement, the love of your life starts rattling off names of directors, producers, friends, their mom and their hood…but no mention of you. Let that set in. This feeling is Malcolm & Marie.
So the scene I just described is sort of the catalyst for the drama that will be Malcolm & Marie. Sam Levinson, the director of this film, had a moment in his life where he forgot to thank his wife in his thank you speech.
Malcolm & Marie is a bit of a twist on that night. In this film, Malcolm (John David Washington who sounds SO MUCH like his famous father) forgets to thank his girlfriend, Marie, after the premiere of his film, which he believes is the one. But here’s the thing. Marie’s life is the backdrop and inspiration for his film so the slight is a bit more than your typical “I-was-too-nervous-and-excited-to-remember-all-the-people-who-I-meant-to-thank.” The argument flares from there and not from the macaroni that I will be watching to see if she finishes as they argue because I’m weird like that.
If you recall, this film is unprecedented and a first of its kind because it was successfully filmed during a worldwide pandemic where NO ONE on set got sick. Shot on crisp 35 mm black and white film, the simplicity yet intensity of this film can be felt with just two actors playing off of each other for 108 minutes (an hour and 48 minutes for those who oppose math).
John David Washington once told an interviewer that he would intentionally not use his name so he could make it on his own merit versus based on who his father and mother are in the industry. I say all that to say that this man has clearly learned so much from watching his father and it shows. Denzel Washington is known for the intensity and realness he brings to the various classic roles we’ve seen him in. Even as an angel in The Preacher‘s Wife, he makes you believe the passion in his words and actions as well as having that unique ability to make you feel that you are somewhere in the room with him. Just from the trailer, I can see that John David Washington has that same uniqueness.
Most of you who are my age have watched Zendaya grow up with us in various TV shows and movies but that all changed when we watched her as the once drug addicted Rue in Euphoria. I’ve never gasped and asked aloud “What is happening” so much in my life than when I was watching that damn show but I couldn’t turn it off. Honestly, are the kids these days that bad? They can’t be. I digress. Zendaya, in her own right, is an actress who can completely change herself in her work. You don’t see Zendaya when she’s in her element. What makes her even better? She is the best scene partner. You have to be a special person to keep up with her and not everyone can do it and hold their own. The melding of these two, just in this trailer, is the best and I didn’t think that at first. There is a 12 year age different between the two, and initially, I could not get past trying to figure how old each of them were; however, again, in watching the trailer, the relationship between Malcolm and Marie feels mature but not completely honest. You know how you get comfortable in a relationship where certain things just happen, that you hate or that bother you, and you just get used to the motions and start to not care until things come to a head. That also is this movie. There have been some things that haven’t been said. Some things that haven’t been resolved, have just been tolerated or overlooked, both in the relationship and personally.
Normally, movies like this that are put together in a sort of case study way can fall a little flat but this feels different. Feels like something fresh and not because of the hoops they had to jump through to get the movie done. Also, the assertion made by the director is literally in the trailer and it sets the expectation and tone for what we’re going to be watching. This is not a love story but a story of love so don’t expect a bunch of unexpected roses and a montage of moments in love. This isn’t that and they better keep their word.
Malcolm & Marie debuts on Netflix on February 5th, and not on Valentine’s Day.