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Malcolm and Marie: Why Leaving a Toxic Relationship Is So Hard

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at St. John's chapter.

There is a thin line between love and hate, a line that Malcolm and Marie are constantly balancing on. Malcolm and Marie directed by Sam Levison follow a couple over the course of one night, unpacking and arguing about every issue they have with the other. Malcolm is a filmmaker who uses emotional abuse as a coping mechanism for his own insecurities. Marie is a recovering addict who submits to Malcolm’s large presence by making herself smaller. It is obvious from the beginning that the relationship is toxic, not based on love, but codependency. The movie goes in circles, they argue, they apologize, they make up, but they never forgive. Finishing this movie made me feel empty and confused. How can two people who claim to love each other be so cruel? This was the question that stayed with me throughout the entirety of the movie and has stayed with me beyond just the ending.

As young women, we were taught that if a boy is mean to you, it means he must like you. This idea, if we know it or not, is still with us, and that’s why as women we settle for partners who might not be the best for us. Malcolm throughout the film constantly reminds Marie of her faults, mainly her past addiction (which is what inspired his own movie), and her infidelity. Marie responds to Malcolm’s verbal abuse by calling him a bad filmmaker, knowing that this is his biggest insecurity. While it may not be obvious to her, Marie is stuck; she feels like Malcolm is the only person in the world that is truly there for her. He makes this obvious by bringing up the fact that he is the reason she got clean and how grateful she should be that he is still with her.  The toxicity of the relationship lies within the couple’s reliance on each other. Much like watching a friend in a toxic relationship, the audience doesn’t understand why the pair stay together; the only people that can understand the relationship are the ones in it. 

At some point in life, we will either be in or be around a toxic relationship. These relationships always start out magically, as you and your significant other are untouchable. So when things begin to go downhill it is hard to accept. You don’t expect the person you trust with everything to use your biggest regrets and insecurities against you. Not only that but you don’t expect yourself to do it either. Toxic relationships bring out the worst in both people and lead them to do and say things they otherwise wouldn’t. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, a woman will leave an abusive relationship seven times before leaving for good. The reason these relationships are so hard to leave is that the good times were so good that you can’t help but hope that it could be that good again. Being in a toxic relationship is being gaslit into thinking that the war is worth it if you love each other. This is not true. Real love is meant to be peaceful, you are supposed to feel safe with them and know within your heart that your significant other would never hurt you. Malcolm and Marie show us that toxic relationships feel like being trapped in a house, unable to see the other’s perspective, only seeing things in black and white. 


Delaney Rauch

St. John's '24

Delaney Rauch is a freshman communcation arts major here at St. John's. Delaney is originally from Providence, Rhode Island but has started making her home in New York. Delaney loves to go thrifting, walk through musems, find cute coffee houses, and always there to talk about important issues.
Ivy Bourke

St. John's '23

Campus Correspondent for St. John's. I am a Sports Management major with a concentration in Business Administration, and a minor in Journalism. My passion for writing has never dulled so I hope to always use this passion for entertainment, and change.