Malcolm & Marie ★★★★
Starring Zendaya, John David Washington
Relationships are complicated and constantly changing. There are moments, or sometimes whole evenings in some relationships that get everything out on the table; a cathartic moment that leaves only the option to sink or swim.
That is the simple but arresting premise of Malcolm & Marie. Zendaya (Marie) and John David Washington (Malcolm) star as a couple arriving home from the biggest night of Malcolm's life, where they pour over a seemingly simple, but weighty mistake.
To talk too much about its plot though would spoil the slow but steady argument that dances around the runtime. From the moment the opening credits roll there is a sense of something classy about this picture; from black and white film to the brilliant soundtrack, you know you're in for something a little different.
What we can and should talk about are the career defining performances of the two, and only, characters in the movie. Zendaya and John David Washington are everything here. Without them we wouldn't have anything special to talk about. They live and breathe the characters and bring the exhausting script a human touch. There's an outstanding scene where Marie fools us all and it's both terrifying and fun while Malcolm's outburst at his critics just gets funnier the angrier he gets.
Although the nature of this couple's relationship is extreme, there is a truth in loving each other through the arguments and the darkness that will keep you glued to their story. Just when you wish they would stop being so pedantic, something is said that reveals just why they are behaving that way; and so it goes on. It's clever writing and another example of a play style script resonating with us in the claustrophobic world we find ourselves in.
This two-hander is not for everyone. In years to come though it has the potential to be seen as the film that elevated two stars to acting icons.
Malcolm & Marie available now on Netflix