In the month of love and Black History, Hollywood is pleased to entertain us with a crisp yet oldish drama that sees Zendaya and Sam Levinson’s collaboration at the center of these challenging times, with Zendaya and John David Washington in Malcolm & Marie.
This is a quarantine movie
The movie was released on Feb. 5 on all streaming services, including Netflix. Secretly shot following the protocols and under the difficulties of COVID-19, the movie was done with a budget of $2.5 million. The production took less than a month between June and July 2020. The only performers are the protagonists of the drama. The crew was very small and there were never more than 12 people on set due to the pandemic’s regulations, ensuring everyone’s safety. Because of this, Zendaya and John did their own make-up and chose their attire while filming, since no designers and make-up professionals were allowed to get in.
John is Malcolm, a newly affirmed Black filmmaker. Zendaya plays Marie, his 20-something-year-old girlfriend. John and Zendaya are madly in love, or at least this is what they say to each other and show to the public. Their love brings up their most inner insecurities and fears, their pride and their fears of failure. They challenge their love with toxic behaviours, verbal abuse, and a constant coming-back factor that is inevitable at the end of their fights.
Black and white through and through
Everything is in black and white. The setting, the plot, the characters cannot embrace their potential movements and change of colors and feelings. There’s an imbalance of emotions that are expressed by the characters, especially by Marie. She is in fact the real protagonist of the movie, who starts the conversation and unpacks the inner trauma of the couple. It is through her words and movements that the viewers are able to discern what is going wrong in the relationship as well as in each one of the partner’s personalities.
This is not the first work by Sam Levinson with Zendaya. The two of them have already worked on Euphoria, touching and crossing delicate topics such as racism, abuse, and drug dependency.
For different reasons the movies didn’t get all positive reviews. What stuck with the critics were John’s character’s words, heavily against critics and the media industry always grasping and searching for a capitalistic reason in any form of art. In addition to this, the movie was defined too talkative and stagnant, but also beautifully shot and capable of transcribing a great energy through the most significant monologues, especially the ones delivered by Zendaya.
Giulia Baldini is an Italian-Brazilian fashion journalist and published author based in NYC. Her first book is called Fashion on the Beat: The Melodies and Rhythms in Fashion Journalism. She currently writes for The Garnette Reporter and her lifestyle blog thecurlyflower.com.