“Malcolm & Marie”: Zendaya Dazzles Us Once Again

Story by Peyton Tranas / Contributing Writer

Photos by IndieWire, NME, Variety.

Sam Levinson, the creator of the beloved show “Euphoria,” collaborates with Zendaya yet again in the newly released, tension-building film, “Malcolm & Marie.” The film features only two actors who heatedly discuss their tumultuous relationship: Zenday and John David Washington.

John David Washington (left) and Zendaya (right) star in the newly released film, “Malcolm & Marie.”

Shot over the course of only 14 days, “Malcolm & Marie” takes advantage of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The creators have taken the inability to have large gatherings of people and played into it. The film itself takes place over one night after Washington’s character, Malcolm, premiers his new film about a former drug addict who recovered at the age of 20. 

The audience discovers that Zendaya’s character, Marie, actually lived out the life that Malcolm portrayed in his film, yet he forgot to acknowledge and thank her in his speech. The majority of their night is spent arguing, with Malcolm often gaslighting Marie and attempting to invalidate her feelings. 

John David Washington (Malcolm) and Zendaya (Marie) in a scene from “Malcolm & Marie.”

While I believe the film was intended to exhibit what relationships go through and the inevitable arguments that arise between couples despite their shared love for one another, I believe it also portrayed how there is oftentimes one person of the relationship who holds a psychological type of power and control over the other.

Marie voices her feelings many times throughout the film, expressing how unappreciated she feels; in response, Malcolm manipulatively twists her words to portray her as being mean or selfish towards him. As a viewer, many scenes were difficult to watch, because Zendaya achingly portrays the internal pain that Marie was enduring throughout the relationship.

As for the acting: this may be Zendaya’s most vulnerable and show-stopping performance yet. Once again, she has proven that she was more than just a Disney Channel co-lead when she took on the role of Rue in “Euphoria.”  

The difference between this role and others she has taken in the past is that not only is she playing her age, but she is also the lead of the film.

Zendaya herself tweeted: “This is my first time being a leading lady, but also my first time being this creatively involved in something…”

There was some criticism regarding the casting decisions, due to Zendaya being 24 years old and Washington being 36 years old. Despite this, the two actors played off one another, creating a vulnerable performance and valuable insight regarding what this couple goes through behind closed doors.

If you are someone who has gone through a relationship where you experienced verbal abuse or gaslighting, watch this film with caution. It’s an intense, eye-opening film to those who have never experienced something like this firsthand.

“Malcolm & Marie” is an unusual, yet well-produced film that we will probably see more of as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

To contact Lifestyles Editor Ashley Barrientos, email lifestyles@mtsusidelines.com.

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