Malcom & Marie is a character driven story, revolving around a destructive and emotionally draining argument that takes place after an awards ceremony where Malcom, an up and coming filmmaker, played by John David Washington, forgets to thank his girlfriend Marie, a model and former drug addict, who is played by Zendaya. This leads to a series of hurtful and I will use my friends term “spirit murdering” arguments where the two lovers bring up past events and trauma to gain an argumentative advantage over the other. The characters themselves do not have much redeeming about them, and its hard to see how their relationship could survive even one night of such vicious emotional assaults. Yet somehow this defective couple thrives on the conflict, and go from loving one moment, to fighting and loving again throughout the course of a night.
Although the characters are exhausting, the artistic presentation, and great acting, make the film worth watching. Choosing to shoot the film in black in white, with a flair for 60s styles nostalgia in a modern setting was a creative and visually appealing choice. The house the couple stayed in was awesome, but the acting is really what makes the film shine. Washington really showcases a range of believable emotions, as he embraces the role of the narcissistic, loving and emotionally abusing boyfriend, who means well, but cannot help attempting to destroy his girlfriend Marie’s psyche in their arguments. Initially, Zendaya appeared uncomfortable in this adult themed role initially, but maybe that was just my own discomfort seeing Spiderman’s high school girlfriend become a woman. Zendaya attacked this role with relish as she played the supportive girlfriend who, also had a series of emotional breakdowns as she swayed from loving to hating her boyfriend Malcom throughout the film. The movie takes place solely in the house and only has two characters, which was great artistic choice. This creates a sense of claustrophobia, as Malcom and Marie continually orbit each other in small spaces, although they have a large house and yard, they could use to get away from one another.
I would definitely spend the cash to see this one, just due to the acting, but you will be drained by the end of the film. Grade B.