By: Morgan Skinner
In the recently released Netflix film, Malcolm & Marie, writer and director Sam Levinson depicts a Black couple returning to their home from a movie premiere, while they wait for critics’ responses.
The movie follows Malcolm (John David Washington), a director, and Marie (Zendaya), his girlfriend, in what has proven to be a very controversial film on Black love. The couple, five years into their relationship, has clearly fallen out of the honeymoon stage, and instead function in a state of constant disagreements, dependency, and fear of loss.
Rather than calling it a night, the couple spends hours hashing things out–arguing, digging up skeletons, making up, then, repeat. The movie was an exhausting cycle that could have been avoided if either Malcolm or Marie had just gone to bed.
Additionally, the movie felt disingenuous. Although both Washington and Zendaya played their roles well, it seemed as though their purpose was to voice the frustrations of a white man through Black mouths. The script, written and directed solely by Levinson (a white man), repeatedly includes the n-word, grapples with a drug addict, and depicts a Black man, who is arguably over-critical of the white community. Essentially, Levinson spared no costs to portray the couple and their love in a negative light.
In truth, the most notable aspect of the film was the cinematography. Shot in entirely black and white, it forces the audience to not get consumed by color, but instead, to focus on the characters, their tone, and delivery.
Although a great opportunity for the actors to display their versatility, the script was lengthy and poorly written, which makes the film unpleasant to watch.