“Malcolm & Marie” is an agonizingly brilliant conversation

Director Sam Levinson brings his “Euphoria” magic to the big screen.

Lauren McBride, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Stunning black and white visuals, raw dialogue and beautiful performances are only a few of the aspects that make “Malcolm & Marie” a true stand-out film. Following the success of “Euphoria,” director Sam Levinson took many of the characteristics that made the show such a huge hit and incorporated them into a full-length feature. From actors to music, every aspect of “Malcolm & Marie” will have fans of “Euphoria” questioning how unrelated the two really are.

DAZZLING DIALOGUE

One of Levinson’s greatest strengths in his writing is his dialogue, as heavily demonstrated in recent “Euphoria” specials released in December 2020 and January 2021. These special episodes consisted of simply two people sitting and having a single conversation, stretching the entire length of the episode. Though this may sound boring to some people, the conversations cover extraordinarily deep, emotional and philosophical topics that suck the viewer in.

Levinson tackles this same concept in “Malcolm & Marie,” picking a topic of conversation and having his two characters focus intently on it for the duration of the film. 

One of the stars of “Malcolm & Marie” is an up-and-coming snobby filmmaker who comes home after the premiere of his latest work, complaining about the aspects of the story that were missed and reviewers who make everything political. Meanwhile, his girlfriend is more concerned about the fact that she was not thanked in his speech and that he does not realize that without her, he would never be successful. This leads to a torturous back and forth that lasts the entire night.

COMMENTARY ON TOXICITY

The true nature of “Malcolm & Marie” is a commentary on the nature of toxic relationships. Nowadays, phrases and posts are all over the internet and in conversations telling people to “cut off” anybody toxic from their lives. However, “Malcolm & Marie” gives viewers a glimpse at the agonizing truth behind a relationship where two significant others are not good for one another, and how leaving them is easier said than done.

Zendaya plays Marie, a recovered addict who now supports her aspiring filmmaker boyfriend. John David Washington portrays Malcolm, a self-absorbed artist who is convinced Marie would suffer without him, when in reality, the opposite is true. Both actors brilliantly shine in their roles, adding a necessary layer of depth that makes their interactions seem real and raw.

In the span of just a few hours, Malcolm and Marie go back and forth between loving and hating each other, from caring deeply for each other to wanting to see their downfall. It is insufferable and exhausting, but undeniably realistic, which is exactly what Levinson intended. “Malcolm & Marie” demonstrates a convincing example of the fears, dangers and unhealthy attachments that come from toxic relationships.

EUPHORIC EFFECT

In addition to the intense amount of raw dialogue in the film, there are startling similarities that make it seem almost as if “Malcolm & Marie” is a “Euphoria” sequel. Its dazzling visuals are unique just like the show it seems to imitate. 

Levinson pulled “Euphoria” star Zendaya into the film to add the same level of depth, pain and desire in her acting to “Malcolm & Marie” that she brought to Rue in “Euphoria.” 

Zendaya’s performance on “Euphoria” made her the youngest person to ever receive the Emmy award for best lead actress in a drama series. In addition, music artist Labrinth performed the stunning soundtrack for the film, the same artist behind the spectacular hit that is the “Euphoria” soundtrack.

Regardless of the striking similarities to its sister show, “Malcolm & Marie” is still an original, masterful work of art to say the least. Its actors have undeniable chemistry and expertly portray the gruesome characteristics of toxic relationships that make audiences cringe. Shot in only two weeks at one location with the addition of COVID-19 restrictions, it is brilliantly compiled and an impressive feat. “Malcolm & Marie” is curious and thought-provoking, undoubtedly worth the watch.

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