'Malcolm and Marie' is a captivating story about a film director and an actresses’ relationship. Set within the space of one night, the audience are able to truly become invested in the two character’s emotions. Marie is a recovered drug addict and actress whilst Malcolm is a director. After Malcolm’s film’s premier, we see the couple return home to a night of repeated arguments after a simple forgotten ‘thank you’ in his speech. As the film progresses and the story unfolds, the audience uncover more about each character's pasts and their personalities, encouraging them to form opinions of their own.
Levinson wisely chose to return to a nostalgic form of cinema through the use of a black and white colour palette, reminding the audience of the sophisticated noir genre and early Hollywood. The subtle elements of jazz music also contribute to this nostalgia, despite the film being set in the present. Mystery and enigma is also subtly evoked through the clever use of cinematography including shadowy lighting, wide shots and turbulent performances.
Delving into the two characters relationship, the audience can truly see how toxic it is. Both of them are clearly driving each other to insanity and using their vulnerability to belittle each other. The director has cleverly used this theme to intrigue the audience and leave them with questions by the end. Furthermore, the careful use of close-up shots captures the characters’ hidden emotions and the exhaustion in their eyes. As the trailer suggests ‘this is not a love story, this is the story of love’.
Discussions of race also give more depth to the movie’s plot. Malcolm suggests that he is unhappy with a review of his film as he argues that people were trying to frame his film through a political lens simply because the lead character was black. Although this is not a major focus through the film, it is an important point that should be emphasised and it is interesting to hear this point of view because films with black people in often do automatically become seen as political.
Overall, I highly recommend this film. It is a film that appears simplistic from the outset but has many underlying complex layers within and has avoided following the typical romance narrative. It is true to the complexity of the real world.
Words By: Chloe Hill
Edited By: Tamikka Reid