I will start off by getting this off my chest right away. Zendaya and John David Washington deserve an awards nomination and I don’t doubt that they will get that. Their performances are the center focus of this film, as we’re led into the personal and intimate relationship between these two characters. They’re the driving force of the film, delivering so much power and electrifying energy it’s hard not to fully engage.
The director Sam Levinson, whose worked with Zendaya before on Euphoria, does a great job leading the on screen couple. The story beats work for such a simple premise. There are so many moments where I felt like I was intruding on these characters lives. There is a real sense of legitimacy and intimacy, it’s really hard to nail, but I feel like the leads are to be credited. Not everyone can form this type of chemistry with their on screen partner which is a testament to Zendaya and John’s acting chops. I also have to highly praise the gorgeous cinematography. The entire film is in black and white, but it matches the mood all throughout the runtime. The lighting on the sets and framing of scenes were gorgeous, and you can take any frame from the movie and hang it up on your wall as art. Most of the scenes are also cleverly filmed in one shot, alternating fluently between scene transitions.
I recognize that this movie may not be for everyone solemnly based on its simplicity. There is no doubt this is a character study about the ups and downs of a relationship and it may be hard to retain complete attention all throughout since yes, the film is all dialogue. I for one, did enjoy it and it was hard not to take my eyes away from the screen. These two are a force to be reckoned with this come awards season, and I cannot wait until the film hits a wider audience. It’s all about authenticity.
Malcolm & Marie will be streaming on Netflix, February 5, 2021.