Levinson does it again with Netflix’s ‘Malcolm & Marie’

Zendaya and John David Washington star in Netflix drama Malcolm & Marie, released on Feb. 5.


Zendaya and John David Washington star in Netflix drama “Malcolm & Marie,” released on Feb. 5.

On Feb. 5 Netflix released its long-awaited drama “Malcolm & Marie.” Director Sam Levinson tells a story that focuses on the tension of a filmmaker and his girlfriend. The film stars John David Washington and Zendaya as the  main characters, Malcolm and Marie. 

Levinson has also worked on HBO’s “Euphoria,” a drama series that highlights the struggles of addiction. When the show’s first season ended in 2019, Levinson announced that a second season was in the works. Shortly after, the COVID-19 pandemic forced filmmakers like Levinson to halt production. 

Although restrictions surrounding  the pandemic remain uncertain, Levinson managed to resume production on this film. The restrictions on production during a global pandemic undoubtedly played a role in the unique setup of this film. 

The movie takes place strictly on the grounds of where Malcolm and Marie are living and they are the only characters we ever see. This style of filmmaking forces us to focus on the characters and their dialogue.

In this case, the audience becomes fully submerged into the couple’s relationship. It causes the audience to feel as though we are sitting awkwardly in the corner watching everything unfold. We are dragged through a series of arguments that allow us to learn more about their relationship. 

The two begin arguing after they return home from Malcolm’s film premiere where he forgot to mention Marie in his speech. Before that, he runs high on life, reminiscing about how much the audience loved it and how even the “white girl from LA Times” seemed to like it.

The recurring comment regarding this LA Times journalist serves as a social commentary of how black artists and their work is seen. The film suggests that when a black artist like Malcolm does anything artistic, it is automatically assumed to be some sort of political statement. Malcolm hates this and swears that he doesn’t want to be political. 

Between the epic rants and screaming of both characters, there are moments of peace where the chemistry and tension between the co-stars is almost insurmountable. Zendaya continues to prove her dominance as an actress in her portrayal of Marie and her execution of emotionally exhausting scenes. Like Zendaya, Washington is also on a hot acting streak moving from his roles in “BlacKkKlansman” (2018) and “Tenet” (2020). 

It’s fair to say that Levinson’s vision was brought to life by two experienced actors and a script that will rip your heart out. All the elements of this film work together to create a successful and cohesive film.  

Rating: 4/5

Sophia Pearson can be reached at [email protected] or @sophia__pearson on Twitter.