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Malcom & Marie {Film Review} 2021 Everyone seems to hate this film but me....

I couldn't have been more excited for this to drop on Netflix's most likely due to the lack of new releases but more for a current hunger for thought-provoking films. With award season approaching my viewing patterns have been shifted to slow burning thought stimulating films. In any other year, I'd have this chance to sprinkle in these types of films, by attending TIFF in person or visiting an actual theatre to balance the fast paced sequel driven box-office. Almost approaching a year since lockdown, and experiencing serious content fatigue, my notifications, projector an little cinema was ready.

Critics absolutely loathed this film..... and I loved it.

Malcolm & Marie is a very movie-aware movie.

The film is not for everyone, clearly, but I don't believe that's the intention either. It's not to be your safe, average, mainstream film about a damaged couple, but rather holds a mirror up to the complexity of human emotions, our egos, and ability to understand and compromise. It's a film that puts politeness aside and highlights brutal truth, honesty and hidden fears most people experience daily.

The film can be exhausting and frustrating, as audiences are forced into the environment of the characters as they reflect the highs and lows of relationships. It fluctuates in emotions as an extreme, brutal and heartbreaking display of genuine human conditions.

“Cinema doesn’t need to have a f—ing message. It needs to have a heart and electricity." -Malcom

This is why the film, in my eyes, fully and utterly succeeds in its storytelling. "It needs to have a heart and electricity." That's exactly what this film had. The bursts of energy and passion these two characters express, made me as an audience member connect, relate, and most importantly feel which is exactly what cinema is suppose to do. Having ideas or some sort of message to take away is excellent but if I complete a film without feeling something, then in my mind it's failed.

Seeing the comment "It's incredibly boring" makes me bring a hand to my temples. As for once, there is no false advertising. The film is marketed as a conversation piece. Audiences were fully aware that this film would be two characters just talking to each other, not Christopher Nolan's Tenet. Still finding the film to be stale is an acceptable argument, if fully aware of the context beforehand. However, in this sequel driven, quick cutting, action packed society we've gotten ourselves in, to knock down a film for being too stripped back is invalid, if it was done successfully.

If the dialogue and performances are well crafted, watching two characters ping pong talking points back and forth is a complete acceptable form of entertainment to me personally. There are lots of incredibly gripping films of nothing but monologues like A24's Locke, which follows Tom Hardy on the phone driving for over an hour. In a way, these types of films are more alined with theatrical plays, which is what this film felt like to me. The house being the stage, impressively long monologues and the dramatic tension in movement/body language all reflect a theatrical experience.

The dialogue had so many punches, layers, facts about human nature, the entertainment industry, and filmmaking that the the argument that 'nothing happens' throughout the film has never been more false. One can take any scene or line of dialogue and completely connect it to a web of thousands of other ideas.

Cinematically the film is stunning. Those aware of my other posts know how much I adore framing, and this film is no exception. Each frame is a picturesque portrait of the characters and there film can completely work as a silent film. The rhythm and choreography of movement is so well thought, from the choices of action, layout of the house, and body language.

The use of black and white has a multitude of perks, the focus on story, the history of b&w cinema, and the compliment of lighting to highlight and reflect the characters.

The film calls out critics specifically and I honestly don't believe they liked that too much due to their response rating. With an amazing performance from Washington, he rants for about 7-8 minutes after receiving his first review, showing us the perspective of a creator absorbing the romanticizing success of his film. Which in a way what I'm also doing with this post.

John David Washington, needs an Oscar nomination for this performance. I've never been so quick and sure of a definite nomination. Captivating doesn't even come close, to describe the energy he brought to each scene. Theres a monologue in the middle of film that transcends the character, through to the actor, and beyond to a more large idea. The audience watches Malcom, in real time, work out this thought and commentary, in moments where we see glimpses of Washington and elements of director Sam Levington.

Washington graciously carries the audience through a range of extreme emotions, in a performance that made me as an audience member fluctuate between admiring and despising character in the best possible way. Zendaya as well gives another great performance, I wouldn't say more stand out than her role in Euphoria but unreservedly held her own. Their characters both compliment and contrast one another, in a beautifully toxic clash of two people who love one another.

So critics are giving it a low 1-2 rating, and I give it 4.5

All thoughts and media influence aside, I still would recommend this film to bring your own conclusions and opinions. I've never been so split with critics I usually tend to aline with in such a jarring way. Malcom & Marie has undoubtably caused a stir and discussion, which is everything I love about cinema.


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