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The 1A Movie Club Sees ‘Malcolm & Marie’

Zendaya attends the Bvlgari B.zero1 Rock collection event at Duggal Greenhouse in Brooklyn, New York.
Zendaya attends the Bvlgari B.zero1 Rock collection event at Duggal Greenhouse in Brooklyn, New York.

With the pandemic in full swing, the volume of new movies and TV shows to watch has slowly dwindled. But some studios and production companies have soldiered on, despite the setbacks. That’s part of what makes Netflix’s “Malcolm & Marie” so intriguing.

Zendaya and John David Washington star in a story about a couple who get into an all-night argument. The boyfriend’s new film premiered that evening, and during his speech following the end of the movie, he thanks everyone except for his girlfriend who inspired him to make the film. The omission leads to the argument in question.

The film, directed by Sam Levinson, plays with the ideas of film criticism, the source of inspiration, the sacrifices of filmmaking and more.

Critic Soraya Nadia McDonald reviewed the film:

For a couple with so much supposed history, their argument is surprisingly empty, even more so when one considers that Marie is sober; she’s not even allowed the playground of Martha’s slurred, alcohol-soaked caustic barbs in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Furthermore, Albee’s play benefits from the invention of a fake son who occupies the gulf between Martha and George and their years of accumulated codependent contempt. The heart of Malcolm and Marie’s quarrel is comparatively minuscule, and Levinson drains it of any interest every time Malcolm insists on peppering it with his ill-defined broadside against that “white girl from the L.A. Times.” Of course, it’s possible to make interesting, compelling work about being an artist — David Henry Hwang’s Soft Power comes to mind, as does the Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar! — but it helps when the story does not take its protagonist as seriously as he takes himself.

We convene the 1A Movie Club to talk about “Malcolm & Marie.”

Copyright 2021 WAMU 88.5

Kaity Kline
Kaity Kline is an Assistant Producer at Morning Edition and Up First. She started at NPR in 2019 as a Here & Now intern and has worked at nearly every NPR news magazine show since.