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  • Writer's pictureMax Markowitz

Malcolm & Marie

Zendaya Is Next To A Miracle

It's often said that flattery will get you everywhere, especially in Hollywood. Although real praise in today's world isn't flattery, it's a form of giving thanks. Of course, everyone has their own definition of everything but I view thanks (real genuine thankfulness) as an acknowledgment of one's contributions. Simply anything that shows you're not taken for granted. Euphoria’s Zendaya clearly shares this philosophy as her role in Sam Levinson’s (who also created Euphoria) Malcolm & Marie was written exclusively for her and it really shows.

Now it should be noted that this was filmed after covid began. From June 17 to July 2 of last year, no more than twelve people were permitted on the set used for filming. Zendaya and co-star John David Washington were the only people seen in the entire film. Malcolm & Marie follows the title characters as they return very early in the morning after Malcolm’s movie premiere. Malcolm’s eagerly awaiting reviews for his directorial debut, much of which is based on Marie.

Malcolm sensing Marie’s current mood tells her to tell him what's bothering her but she insists that she's tired, wants to go to bed and nothing productive will be discussed between them. He soon gets out of her that he forgot to thank her in his speech which is insensitive enough but how he sees her contributions to the film and their relationship is what caused him to forget. The entire film focuses on them the way a stage play would. Sometimes they're just talking, other times they're yelling and sometimes, laughing.

Malcolm & Marie has been compared a couple of times now by critics to Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? Truthfully though, there's really no comparison. While Virginia Woolf’s Martha was in many ways sympathetic, she was generally unstable whereas Marie isn't. She's just told she is by Malcolm because it's the only way he knows how to respond to her challenging him.

Critics have not been kind to Malcolm & Marie. While I don't take very kindly to it as a film either, I WILL gladly watch it again just for the sake of being a witness to Zendaya’s performance which I can only describe as something next to a miracle. To truly watch someone on the screen you can relate to is always a miracle because while all of us have so many feelings bottled inside towards other people we feel have wronged us in some way, we don't know how to put them into words but Marie does.

Zendaya could not have embodied Marie any more than if she had cut her open, drained out all the fluids, and crawled inside of her body. She BECOMES this character who is so broken and so self-confident at the same time. There's really no word for it though, to know that someone like Marie is with someone like Malcolm. On that note, Washington does have his fair share of time in the spotlight too. I'll admit his character’s rageful insecurities are essential to the injustice of the story but like his fathers (Denzel Washington) characters in most of his films (Training Day, Flight, Fences & Philadelphia), I found Washington to be simply too furious and manipulative to be seen as anything other than the enemy. Especially when put against someone as complex and original as Marie.

While I don't think Malcolm And Marie would've been much different had it not been shot in black and white, I did find it to be a nice touch. There was no covid in the time of black and white movies, perhaps when it's all over we can live like the roaring 20s again only this time, we’ll have much more to be grateful for and we’ll party much harder.

Overall, I vote Malcolm & Marie as a SKIP. It is no less of a mediocre film than it was before I saw it but the gravity of Zendaya’s work will make you focus on nothing else the film tries to offer. The sea should literally part for someone so groundbreakingly on the verge of success of the highest order. She's had a great run so far but her work in Malcolm & Marie is just another step towards her first mile which will only carry her to her next. There is no finish line.

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