Malcolm and Marie is a new film on Netflix starring Zendaya (Marie) and John David Washington (Malcolm) written and directed by Sam Levinson. I applaud the film’s creativity– a two character film shot in a 35mm black and white frame. It is gorgeous and captivating to see. However, the depth of the dialogue falls short resting heavily on a criticism of Hollywood, the film industry and of course, film critics.
I found myself falling for the characters but not really sure who to root for. From the beginning, we are thrust into an uncomfortable tension between a young Hollywood couple.
Marie, a former actress and recovering drug addict, is frustrated yet indifferent when Malcolm forgets to thank her in his speech at his movie premiere. Marie and Malcolm then proceed to use the historical precedent of their relationship to evidence the love, indifference, support and chaos they’ve both endured. The characters fight with veracity using cruel and uncomfortable language. This ultimately augments the dangerous consequences of disrespect and manipulation in personal relationships.
Relationships are a juicy topic so let’s dive in. What has COVID-19 taught us about relationships? A variety of sources reveal the pandemic has presented a “perfect storm” when it comes to relationships. Some are focusing on building a family and improving their mental health. While others have moved-in together after a couple of months of dating. Some couples got engaged, while others filed for separation or divorce. At first glance, this doesn’t seem particularly special. You can say this all happened before the pandemic. You’re right. But within the past year, there has been a dramatic increase in “corona-cuffing,” “accelerated relationships” and shocking separations within a short amount of time.
During times of confinement, it is imperative to put communication on the forefront of our relationships. Throughout the film, Marie struggles to reveal what she really wanted. She wanted to be casted in Malcolm’s film, but the film implies she failed to make the effort. She wanted her efforts to be recognized but perhaps this personal value was not communicated earlier in the relationship. Malcolm merely wants to celebrate his big moment. After receiving constant praise at the premiere, he feels the fruits of his labor are finally paying off. He wants to take this moment to celebrate with the girl he loves. But, he is unable to see how his actions have forced Marie into a mental state of indifference and resentment.
When we take on anything in life, we need support. And for Marie and Malcom, the film projects a downward spiral of miscommunication, ignorance and blinding emotion. People often project our preferred method of support onto others and ignore the fact that different methods of support are needed in different stages of our lives. I am not a relationship expert by any means. However, this movie piqued my curiosity and invited me to explore how our life stages influenced the support we need.
What I found is that there are very distinct methods of support for different stages of our lives. Some scientists found men and women go through different life stages of development.  For Malcolm, it appears he is in the “building” stage of this life where he is determined to make a name for himself. His whole self is pouring his energy into his craft and that amount of energy doesn’t leave much for more. It is not that he’s lazy or indifferent as Marie sees it. He is just developing his professional sense of self. While Marie, recovering for her past, is looking for the appreciation she never received before. She is possibly looking for words of affirmation from Malcolm. 
Overall, I am upset with this film because it disrupts and taints our views of relationships. I believe if we looked at relationships with a curious rather than confrontational eye, we will find more love, understanding and reasons for our behaviors. Or maybe I should exhibit a fierce passion to question and challenge others. What do you think?
As I end this post, I wanted to leave with you a quote from a book I am currently reading,
“. . .we often mistake love for fireworks – for drama and dysfunction. But real love is very quiet, very still. It’s boring, if seen from the perspective of high drama. Love is deep and calm – and constant.”Alex Michaelides, The Silent Patient
Until next time,