Netflix is gearing up for a massive 2021 movie slate and the streaming platform is releasing Malcolm & Marie just in time for our first Valentine’s Day in quarantine.
The black-and-white film stars Zendaya and John David Washington who portray the title characters who are “madly in love” as the poster below says.
Sam Levinson’s pen paired with Zendaya and Washington’s vigorous performances and the compelling cinematography will leave you mind-blown.
The synopsis reads, “As a filmmaker and his girlfriend return home from his movie premiere, smoldering tensions, and painful revelations push them to a romantic reckoning.”
But that description doesn’t prepare you for what you’re going to witness. It’s not just a love story but it’s an unfiltered, raw look into what an authentic, long-term relationship looks like. But not just between men and women, but also between Black creatives and Hollywood.
Malcolm and Marie are in a relationship but it’s hard to tell if they’re happy or not from this film. The film captures one emotional night where a lot is unearthed about both characters. Marie previously abused drugs and she’s in a relationship with a man who was raised by a middle-class family and doesn’t have the rags-to-riches story to pull inspiration from to produce the Black stories that Hollywood celebrates.
But their relationship isn’t the only focus of the flick. Malcolm’s rant after receiving a positive review from the Los Angeles Times is a symbolism of the box that many Black creatives find themselves trapped inside of. He expressed his desire to tell Black stories that aren’t political, but that’s what sells.
The black and white cinematography commands your attention from the very beginning of the film. Zendaya and John David Washington are the only two characters in the entire movie, but the dialogue is used to paint the picture of other characters like the people at the movie premiere, his family, and the star of his film.
It was really cool that the movie’s opening credits showed love to every single worker on-set, even the driver and chef.
Hollywood So White
This modern black-and-white film is subtly refreshing to see because, since the 1960s, few mainstream films were shot in B&W. This period in history was also amid the Civil Rights Movement so Black actors weren’t presented with many opportunities to star in B&W film.
But we went from being excluded from Hollywood to being exploited, the same way Marie expressed that Malcolm did to her.
She accused her boyfriend of ripping off her life story and packaging it as an “authentic” film that he created without even thanking her for the inspiration.
The Black plight is now a hot topic and Malcolm knew that Marie’s relationship with drugs will draw attention. Although she can probably portray the story’s protagonist best, he cast someone else as the main character claiming she wasn’t deserving of the part.
Black Stories aren’t told by us most of the time and it’s a slap in the face when the casting director is influenced by popularity rather than what will work best for the story.
Malcolm & Marie is undoubtedly one of the most “authentic” films that you’ll watch and you just have to watch it to know what I mean by that.