Trying to fall in love with film again.

Malcom and Marie is a polarising movie, and I can see why.

Story

Malcolm and Marie tells the story of a director and his girlfriend who get back from his movie premiere and dissolve into an explosive fight that tests their relationship.

The story of Malcolm and Marie takes place in one location over a matter of hours and I like movies like this because they don't move. The setup, conflict and resolution are all tied to one place and the movie has to get you the viewer through that without shifting from the central location. And given the way, the story in this movie unfolds having the conflict in one place allows for an almost claustrophobic feeling as the character can't and aren't going anywhere.

 Acting 

Given the fact that there are only two actors in this movie, a lot hinges on their performances. They have to keep you engaged while telling a convincing story. Zendaya and John David Washington manage to do that. The two of them have undeniable chemistry. In all honesty, they make the movie worth watching more so because you want to see how the story will play out with two of them more so than you want to see the actual story play out.

The performances in this movie are charged. Given the nature of the story, there is a  lot of shouting, more so from Malcolm than Marie and while it does start to wear thin on you the viewer, it makes sense that they would be tense. Each character is given time to air their grievances and it's those moments that each actor is allowed to flex their acting muscles.  

Personally, I think Zendaya has the upper hand in this movie. Especially in the last third of the movie. Without spoiling anything, the scene at the end with the knife is the best scene in the movie and she dominates.  While you don't necessarily pick a side in this movie, at this point you are more sympathetic to her than you are to Malcolm.


Writing/Direction 

This is where most people have a gripe with the movie and I can why. This movie was written by Sam Levinson who wrote Euphoria and I think a lot of people were expecting a lot more given how Euphoria was written and directed. And Malcolm and Marie didn't really give us much. It is a movie about two people arguing, that's it. While I wasn't really expecting the movie to be more than that, it feels like the movie wanted to be more than that. Especially when you take into account Marie's monologue about Malcolm's film being inherently political.

This is also a movie that is very dialogue-heavy. You rarely have a scene where a character isn't talking and because of that, it a movie that requires a lot of your attention. Now, this could be seen as both a good thing and bad thing as you're watching Malcolm and Marie (both the movie and the characters) to see what would happen next. 

Given that this movie is an hour and forty-five minutes, the runtime goes by fairly quickly, however, me saying that might be because I was engaged with what was going on.

Set Design 

The visual appeal of this movie is that is was shot in back and white and because of that, the film looks good. The best way to describe it is stylish. The colour palette combined with the smooth cuts and camera pans makes this movie aesthetically pleasing. And I'm not trying to read too much into it but I wonder if the colour palette also has a narrative function. The movie is shown in black, white and varying shades of grey and here you have two characters who are at odds with one another who may or may not find resolution at the end. They both start out as two strong individuals on opposing sides of an argument but eventually come to and understanding. And what happens when you mix black and white, you get grey. See where I am going with this?

Score/Soundtrack 

The score and sound design in this movie is TOP TIER. If you have watched Euphoria, then you'll know Labrinth who scored both that show and this movie is a musical genius. There is a seamless blend of soundtrack and score and the songs have not narrative function as well as an auditory one. From Down and Out in New York City by James Brown to Liberation by Outkast, all the songs were carefully curated to not only serve as a way for the character to communicate to the audience but one another. In fact, Marie explicitly states that Malcolm is playing music as a way of apologising to her without actually doing it. This is one of those movies that had me thinking about the score long after I had finished watching it.

Overall Thoughts

Malcolm and Marie is a polarising movie. On Twitter, I saw people tweet about how they loved the movie and other tweets about how they couldn't make it through the first 10 minutes and I understand why. Not only is it a movie about two people arguing for 1 hour and 45 minutes. It also movie that can remind people about their own personal experiences and be a bit of a sore spot for people. I don't want to say this a niche film because it isn't. However, it is one that is going to fascinate some with the performances of its leads, while having others say "what did I just waste time watching?"

I kinda fall into the middle. 

Comments