I love you, I hate you, I can’t live without you. Malcolm and Marie ignites an inner battle for viewers, causing them to constantly change their perspective of the two lovers.
John David Washington and Zendaya play Malcolm and Marie in a movie written and directed by Sam Levinson. The story is about a movie-director and his girlfriend who have a volcanic and passionately dysfunctional relationship. Despite the agony, it is so real.
How it begins
It all commences in silence. The screen is black and white with a faint wind blowing a couple of leaves in the background. You can’t see much else, just a dark and seemingly endless garden. The credits show up next, still in silence. It paints the picture of a 60s thriller, keeping you on edge, waiting in anticipation for something to jump out.
Two minutes in, funk music suddenly erupts onto the screen. This foreshadows how the entire movie will roll out. The Netflix info says: “Painful revelations push them toward a romantic reckoning.” I get the painful part, but not so much the romance. There is no question about how toxic this couple is, but they clearly know each other better than anyone. Once they reconcile, it has you questioning whether in their case, toxicity is really the worst thing.
The power of love
The film is set in modern times, yet is in black and white. Perhaps echoing the director’s view that relationships never really change. The power of love never changes. Also, discrimination towards people of colour hasn’t changed, highlighting how underdeveloped the equality systems are. Or maybe it is an oxymoron of this life which is so much more complex than just black and white.
Every time the lovers argue, they dig right into each other’s insecurities and weaknesses, ripping apart any shred of dignity they have left. Despite Marie being broken and overwhelmed by demons, you can’t help but be in awe of how she views the world. It is exactly why Malcolm says he loves her.
Malcom repeats to Marie that he doesn’t need her, and I think he may be telling the truth. I don’t believe he’s clingy, possibly not even weak. His desperate need, however, is making sure she is safe.
He is all she has. She is all he wants. They are trapped within beauty and disaster, and it is up to them to choose which to hold on to tighter.
Malcolm and Marie is available to watch on Netflix.