Star turns make Netflix movie Malcolm & Marie 'a real must-see'

Zendaya as Marie and John David Washington as Malcolm in Malcolm & Marie.

Zendaya as Marie and John David Washington as Malcolm in Malcolm & Marie. - Credit: NETFLIX © 2021

Malcolm & Marie starring Zendaya from The Greatest Showman and Tenet's John David Washington is winning rave reviews in some quarters.

Our film critic Paul Steward reviews the movie available now on Netflix.

John David Washington as Malcolm and Zendaya as Marie in Malcolm & Marie.

John David Washington as Malcolm and Zendaya as Marie in Malcolm & Marie. - Credit: DOMINIC MILLER/NETFLIX © 2021

Filmed during lockdown with a limited crew, Malcolm & Marie is a searing relationship drama written and directed by Sam Levinson and featuring the talented acting duo of John David Washington and Zendaya.

Available exclusively on Netflix and presented in black and white, the film focuses on Malcolm (Washington), a highly strung film director and his girlfriend Marie (Zendaya) who, upon returning from Malcolm's latest film premiere, settle in to await the critics responses.

However, all is not well with the pair and an explosive argument erupts, testing the couple's relationship like never before.

John David Washington as Malcolm and Zendaya as Marie in Malcolm & Marie.

John David Washington as Malcolm and Zendaya as Marie in Malcolm & Marie. - Credit: DOMINIC MILLER/NETFLIX © 2021

What follows is a riveting back and forth, as old wounds are ripped open during a fractious night and early morning.

A single location two-hander such as this could easily become dull, but here we get a thoroughly engaging exploration of two fragile characters.

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Washington and Zendaya are at the top of their game and excel with a script designed to showcase their talents.

Talk of Oscar nominations for the pair is not overblown, with Zendaya in particular in with a great chance of awards success.

They both deliver emotionally charged performances as Malcolm and Marie’s past insecurities are brought to the fore.

Zendaya as Marie and John David Washington as Malcolm in Malcolm & Marie.

Zendaya as Marie and John David Washington as Malcolm in Malcolm & Marie. - Credit: DOMINIC MILLER/NETFLIX © 2021

The couple have an obvious deep love for one another, however as the bitter feud rumbles on, it seems less and less likely they’ll be able to retreat from the cliff edge they’ve talked themselves towards.

As with last year's Marriage Story, an equally well acted relationship drama (which this reviewer found too distressing to enjoy), watching a couple disintegrate on screen can prove irresistible to viewers.

The film has proved extremely divisive among critics, with many seemingly falling into the trap of reviewing the man behind the lens rather than the actual feature itself.

Writer-director Levinson is clearly getting some things off his chest via the script – Malcolm vehemently criticises film reviewers throughout – but many works of fiction have elements of truth incorporated into them.

While it’s true Levinson is a white man writing a script for people of colour, the fact Washington and Zendaya collaborated extensively on the project gives their characters a genuine voice.

It’s only fair to judge a film by what appears on screen and here we get a powerfully compelling drama which gets its claws in early and refuses to let go.

With star turns from both Washington and Zendaya, Malcolm & Marie is a genuine awards contender and a real must-see.

Zendaya and John David Washington star in Malcolm & Marie.

Zendaya and John David Washington star in Malcolm & Marie. - Credit: Netflix


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