7/10 Filmed during the height of lockdown/quarantine times of 2020 and featuring a cast of only two people, “Malcolm & Marie” feels almost experimental, as filming during those times had never been done until films like this tried it out and this is a largely successful experiment. For a film to focus on a couple, Malcolm the writer/director and Marie, his former actress/model girlfriend, after a film premiere and be all based on dialogue hangs on our leading two performances working or the entire film falls apart. Luckily for the film, John David Washington and Zendaya both give career best performances and Zendaya in particular should have been a bigger part of the Best Actress conversations at least in terms of nominees. One of her best moments in the film comes from her sitting in a bath tub, reacting to what Malcolm is saying. She is trying to hold back tears as her chin begins to quiver. The emotion that she is able to convey in only her reaction, sans dialogue is a sight to behold. Washington is great too but Zendaya was the true shining star for me here. Since the film takes place all in one location, the cinematography and editing become even more crucial than in a normal film with multiple locations. Luckily, the cinematography is fantastic, is able to entertain us, never repeats itself and even showcases the beautiful location. Paired with the editing and the black and white color scheme, this film looks phenomenal for just being one long conversation. The score and soundtrack set the mood and were as fitting as one could hope for. I also appreciated some of the film’s messages. Writer/director Sam Levinson has a bit to say and a decent amount involves calling out woke film critics who turn everything into a commentary on race as they contradict themselves in reviews (it reminded me of Jordan Peele’s commentary on white “I would have voted for Obama for a third time” liberals in “Get Out”). It was a surprising but refreshing take that I wasn’t expecting. With career best acting, fantastic production elements and dare I say…authentic dialogue, the film’s biggest problem does come with the script. As someone who is unmarried, I have the unfortunate experience of having spent time as the third wheel with a married couple in the middle of a nasty, blow up fight and it is one of the most awkward situations I have ever been in. This film is the cinematic version of that where we witness a somewhat toxic couple have a verbal smack down for virtually the film’s entire hour and 45-minute run time. Just when the couple makes up and we think things are calming down, they can’t go five minutes before one of them starts the fight up again. It is extremely exhausting to witness and despite all of the strong film making elements and incredible acting, this is a film I will never watch again because watching a couple scream at each other for almost two hours nonstop is an emotionally draining experience. I appreciate Levinson’s ability to quickly write the script, film it in two weeks and have two actors give it their all but this can be a chore to get through. I do recommend it because of all the strengths but know what you are getting into before you watch this and I guarantee you won’t want to watch it again. I appreciated all of the film references and name drops that the film puts in, but your average, less film centric, casual Netflix viewers might find some of this film pretentious. I applaud the film in what it sets out to achieve but I just wish the film didn’t actually make me grateful to be single like it did.

#MalcolmInTheMiddleOfAFight / #TheLatestFoeman / #Tenant / #LoveAndOtherDrugs2 / #MariePallidDressing / #MalcolmAndMariesCondo

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