Malcolm & Marie is a pretentious, ego-fueled relationship drama that would not be nearly as good without John David Washington and Zendaya constantly topping each other the entire time. They're both blooming into full-blown powerhouses and film buffs like myself get to witness it in real time. This is a film about a truly toxic relationship where both parties are narcissistic, damaged, and angry about how the world sees them. So, they spend the entire movie taking it out on the other. Some of us can relate. I think we've all been in at least one relationship where things bordered the line between love and hate.
Malcolm (Washington) is a first-time director who has just had his film premiere, and it went very well. However, he neglected to thank his girlfriend Marie (Zendaya) in his speech, and it triggers an epic, volatile fight that lasts an hour and forty-six minutes. In this fight, both parties say some pretty nasty, unforgiveable things but never show any signs of ending the relationship. But we, as the audience, are never quite sure if its love that's holding them together, or just spite. There's so many different ways to look at it.
Apparently, the critics are eviscerating Malcolm & Marie. I'll admit it isn't perfect, and it's certainly self-indulgent as hell, but it's a fantastic character study if nothing else. These two actors are phenomenal, and really ground this film into something we can relate to and respect. Sam Levinson has a bit of mixed track record, but I'd call this one a win.