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  • Skyla Jewell-Hammie

Malcolm & Marie: The New Critically-Acclaimed Film on Netflix



Zendaya and Director/Writer Sam Levinson have doneit again! On February 5th, 2021, Netflix showcased their newest addition, Malcolm & Marie, to the movie collection. The movie spot features director Malcolm; played by John David Washington, and his girlfriend; played by Zendaya, working through their relationship's ups and downs. The unfolding of their relationship occurs while waiting for critics’ response to Malcolm’s movie premiere that night.

If you are about to read ahead, WARNING! This piece will contain some spoilers of the movie. Carry on at your discretion.


Let’s get down to the basics of this movie and what it might represent. Malcolm seems to be a narcissistic director who cannot, for the life of him, accept that Marie changed his life for the better and became the inspiration for his movie. He manages to mansplain for a good part of the movie. For example, he throws Marie’s past with addiction and mental illness in her face, then becomes enraged when Marie calls out his statements for the truth; Marie is his muse and should have gotten the part for the movie.

It is largely assumed that Malcolm cannot take criticism, in public, and his personal life. He throws the blame back on the person giving the rightful criticism that he needs to hear. Marie humbles him quite literally.


The movie starts soft with an opening of Malcolm and Marie entering a sleek and minimalist house, all filmed in Black and White.

Things get louder once Malcolm turns on music and Marie gets settled in. Malcolm starts gushing over Marie about how beautiful she looked. Marie responds that she can't hear him, noticeably disinterested.


Things start to escalate a bit once Malcolm starts complaining about the awaiting critics of his movie from earlier that night.

He spends one minute complaining and yelling about how awesome he is and how terrible the critics are, only to calm his presence and speak sultrily towards Marie. Marie corrects his attitude on multiple occasions because of his dramatic acts and judgemental views. She then moves on to make him Mac n’ Cheese. It seems pretty simple, but this is a big part of the movie.


While Malcolm is screaming about his own efforts and how much he should be appreciated, while critics should be fired, Marie is getting dinner ready. At one point, she is clearly dismissive and upset, and Malcolm notices.

Marie then goes on to explain that Malcolm never thanked her in a speech, specifically a speech about a movie based on Marie’s life. Throughout the movie, Malcolm cannot admit that the movie was based on Marie, and decides its about “a lot of different people, a lot of different things,” as Malcolm says.


Marie doesn't want to talk much about it and just wants to eat. Malcolm starts to eat alone at the table and starts to insult Marie’s mental capacity from across the house. He even goes for seconds of the food she made, whole calling Marie “delusional.”

Marie cannot fathom how Malcolm can sit there, eating the macaroni that she made, while yelling profanities at her and gaslighting her. She calls him out and explains how terrible it is that he can verbally abuse her from across the room while eating the dinner she made him. She then goes on that Malcolm treats the star of the movie, Taylor, better than he ever treated her.


“You spend your entire life catering to the feelings and the whims of literally everyone but me; agents, producers, crew members, actors, fictional characters, get more respect than I do,” Marie says to Malcolm while he eats his second helping of Mac n’ Cheese.

I guess “genuine insight” as Malcolm explained it, does not directly correlate to “you inspired the film, and it's based on you.” It does not make sense how Malcolm manages to create a film obviously based on Marie's life at the time that he met her, yet he never thanks her and gaslights her once she brings it up.


For someone who wants to be seen as a respected director, being open to criticism is apart of the package deal. That goes with any job.

Although he manages to insult Marie and her capabilities every five minutes, he still manages to sulk up to her and whisper a simple, “I'm sorry.” Marie finally lets him kiss her and admits that she's the only person that humbles him.

For a good five minutes, a montage occurs with soft jazz music playing, while the couple playfully wrestles and enjoys each other's company in their arms. At last, Marie says, “don't push away the people who ground you.”

This is not the happy ending with whisperings of sweet nothings, though. Marie takes a shower and possibly washes away the burdens and pent up feelings she carries towards Malcolm.

His feelings of resentment are clearly shown towards her when he credits himself from saving her from the edge of dying by suicide in her past.


Going in, I thought that this was going to be an explosive telling of a love story, but eventually, they make up. I did not expect Malcolm to always feel so self-righteous and make Marie feel so small while needing and relying on Marie daily.

It shows two stories that both hurt each other. At one point Malcolm explains that he wants to punch her one minute, but then love on her the next. This entire movie showed that Marie seemed to be patronized and trapped in a relationship that she has trouble leaving because he financially supports her.


She asks him to leave her space and he tells her to shut up. This may be a showing of abusive love on both sides, but one wants to get out of it in the end.

In the end, we are left with questions on if they really stay together. Both blame each other for the wrongdoings in their life. This film is a depiction of trauma based relationships, and explores the truth of their impact on human interaction and emotional wellness.


References “Malcolm & Marie.” Netflix Official Site, 5 Feb. 2021, www.netflix.com/title/81344370.

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