In a business which is constantly looking for the next biggest stars, Malcolm & Marie showcases two powerhouse performances. From the moment they appear on-screen, they are the only characters we see and they hold your attention throughout, delivering performances and then subsequently a movie, which is unpredictable but engrossing.
Malcolm & Marie is a showcase for the talents of respective titular stars, John David Washington and Zendaya. Washington is the director who has just had his movie premiere and wants to celebrate. Zendaya is the wife, who wants to support her husband but is holding a resentment which slowly unfolds as the movie progresses. Both performances get to showcase the star’s abilities to be dramatic, chaotic, up, down, funny and in the pit of sadness. Its a turbulent movie which runs the whole gambits of emotions and both Washington and Zendaya meet the challenge perfectly.
The film is not a relaxing watch. It keeps you guessing and the characters are always moments away from yet another revelation, borne of a throw-away comment, ruining the unfolding evening. It is always intense, sometimes relying on the shouting and screaming or grand gestures to sell the drama. Other times, director Sam Levinson lets the silence hang over the pair, filling the unsaid gaps and making the tension suffocate the characters. There are moments of humour, which offer opportunities to breathe a sigh of relief, before the movie ramps back up to a steady “11” once again.
The story that unfolds is a good one though. It is a movie where at times you are rooting for one character and understand their perspective while at other times you see it from the opposing side. As each layer of revelation emerges, you get a deeper understanding of this doomed relationship, and also hope that someone will say the “right thing” to save it.
As unpredictable and chaotic as the movie is, and it is always entertaining, you can’t help feeling that the actions of the characters do not ring true. As the conversations get more hectic, more hurtful and the underlying tension spills to the front, you do wonder why either would stay and why this night wasn’t cut short. The fact that the pair are putting themselves through this evening and watching as their lives together crumble, makes you question whether anyone would truly put themselves through this when a stay in a hotel would be a better and less painful option.
Overall, Malcolm & Marie is a showcase for two future powerhouses of Hollywood in Washington and Zendaya. They hold an intense and unpredictable story together perfectly, delivering a gambit of emotional and dramatic performances. The story is interesting and will keep focus, even if the fact that their actions don’t always ring true can sometimes pull you away from the events.
Rating – 4
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