Sam Levinson’s successful project, Malcolm and Marie, is expected to be one of the most controversial films of the year. Starring the incredible Zendaya as Marie and John David Washington as Malcolm, the film revolves around a director who returns home with his girlfriend after a successful premiere, anticipating what is sure to be an inevitable critical and financial success. But the evening takes a sudden turn when revelations about their relationship come to light, once again testing the strength of their love as the truth comes to light.

Malcolm & Marie will be a film for the history books, not necessarily because of its huge success, but because of what the director and cast managed to do during a global pandemic on a $2.5 million budget. Malcolm & Marie is an enjoyable ongoing mess. Weaknesses and shortcomings litter the final cut, and while it is always excellent to see the performances of these two forces, which emphasize almost every aspect of the set and dialogue, the film’s ambitions are not always lived up to.

During the first thirteen minutes, even before the main character appears, we see Malcolm waddling around the table, angry about things we didn’t see in the film. I was immediately seduced by the couple’s relationship, especially after Marie’s quick reaction when she yelled at Malcolm, “You’re exaggerating,” “You’re pathetic.” It’s not often that a film manages to capture me with two small phrases spoken with such power, atmosphere and foreboding.

Given the unprecedented speed and circumstances in which Malcolm & Marie was shot, it’s hard to criticize the film harshly; it’s amazing what Levinson and his team were able to accomplish under such constraints. Still, I can’t help thinking that a few more weeks or even months of script development could have upgraded the film, given that Levinson spent only six days on the entire script. Some of the dialogue is truly remarkable; the jokes, the gossip and the presentation are what make this film truly offensive. But much of this is evident in the strong chemistry between the songs in the film, which is so captivating in the moment that it often makes up for the lack of context of past events in their relationship that they constantly mention.

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Levinson made it clear early on where his interests lie. He worked with Zendaya on Euphoria and knows how to get the best out of her. He is once again showing the world that he has an impeccable and amazing talent. She is no longer the young Disney star that many still think she is, but she is making her way and fighting for bolder and more ambitious roles. She absolutely lets rip, flirts, fights and challenges Malcolm in just about everything. She leaves an unmistakable impression.

John David Washington gives one of his best performances to date. His character of Malcolm, a director obsessed with success, is fantastic. He mocks the movie’s hackneyed attribute of “authenticity” with his self-righteous superiority complex and tells how he sees his own creation. His character functions largely because of Washington’s intelligence and the way he conducts the simplest of dialogues, creating many fantastic monologues.

Watching a couple flirt and fight has never been so much fun. The film’s problem, however, is not that the script could have been better, nor that risky musical choices overshadow many moments, but the cohesive pattern of fighting and chaining that becomes more and more tiresome. I waited for this dialogue to provoke another argument, another monologue, or a heartbreaking confession, and then the process started all over again.

“Malcolm and Mary” is by no means a bad movie. It is relatable to anyone whose love and career have been marred by petty obsessions and painful scars. It’s hard not to find value in the film after ending with Levinson’s screenplay, which, though a bit half-baked, is a testament to the value of communication in relationships. His silence speaks volumes; moments of curiosity and surprising disregard for film criticism and the art of filmmaking are sure to stir controversy. The execution and look are stunning, but with more time, more attention and a little more development, Malcolm & Marie could have been exceptional.

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Frequently asked questions

What does Malcolm mean?

Malcolm, Malcolm, Mael Coluim or Maol Coluim is a Scottish Gaelic name meaning “disciple of St. Columba.”

Malcolm is a biblical name?

He is of Scottish and Gaelic origin, and the meaning of Malcolm is “the devoted saint of Columba.” Does the name of Malcolm appear in the Bible/Torah/Quran? In Gaelic origin, the meaning of the name Malcolm is: servant of Saint Columba.

How do you spell Malcolm?

The correct spelling of the English word “Malcolm” is [mˈalkəm], [mˈalkəm], [m_ˈa_l_k__8_m] (IPA phonetic alphabet).

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