- Words Solly Warner
Sam Levinson’s 'Malcolm & Marie' is a powerful black-and-white romantic drama starring Zendaya and John David Washington that could make Oscar history.
Written and directed by Sam Levinson, Netflix’s upcoming movie ‘Malcolm & Marie’ stars John David Washington and Zendaya as the titular characters. “This is not a love story”, the trailer tells us. “This is the story of love”.
Straight off the bat, initial reactions to ‘Malcolm & Marie’ have been very strong. The film is an acting showcase for both Washington (Malcolm) and Zendaya (Marie), coupled with Marcell Rév’s lusciously crafted cinematography.
When an insecure filmmaker, Malcolm, and his girlfriend Marie return home from a movie premiere and await his film’s critical response, the evening takes a turn as revelations about their relationship surface. Following the events of one long night, the two dive deeper into the highs and lows of their relationship, testing the couple’s love and pushing them toward a romantic reckoning.
Following the private screening, Netflix hosted a Q&A where Levinson said that he wanted the film to “speak to where we are right now, locked up, at home, in relationships, dealing with love and grievances, and the joy of all that”.
Levinson also reflected on his last feature film, ‘Assassination Nation’, in 2018 and how his new film comes from a particularly personal place. “At the same time, I needed a catalyst for it: What’s a really terrible thing a person can do to their partner? Here’s the truth: I forgot to thank [Ashley Levinson, his wife] at the premiere of ‘Assassination Nation’, which was a brutal film to edit, and she was upset. I felt very guilty about it. Supposedly, we only talked about it on the car ride home. In my head, I imagined we’d had 1,000 conversations about it. I took that as the catalyst for this piece”.
Whilst the movie is already proving to be an exciting watch from the critics, the film’s stars have also expressed their personal reasons of interest for the project. Washington said that COVID’s postponement of his film ‘Tenet’ left him in “a place of unknown and hankering for discovery, of self and of my artistry”. This empowered him to take on the project. “It was ironically the perfect time to do something like this given the unknown of this different kind of film [Tenet] that was rolling out”.
Zendaya, who has worked closely with Levinson on the hit series ‘Euphoria’ also spoke on her close relationship with the director. “As soon as [Levinson] talked about shooting it in black and white…it sounded incredible while sounding equally terrifying because I’ve never had the opportunity to be involved with something from its inception”.
There is the potential for an array of history to be made if Oscar voters support ‘Malcolm & Marie’. Along with Levinson and his wife Ashley Levinson, both Washington and Zendaya are also producers. If Netflix’s other feature, ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’ also gets nominated for Best Picture, Washington, along with his father Denzel, would be the first father-son pairing to be nominated alongside each other in the category’s history.
If Zendaya is nominated for Best Picture, she would be the third Black woman to be nominated in the category following Oprah Winfrey and Kimberly Steward, as well as the youngest female producer nominee in the category’s history.
Further, if nominated for both picture and actress, Zendaya would be the first woman to be nominated for both acting and producing. Also, she would join only Halle Berry as a Black woman to win the Best Actress category in 93 years.
With all things considered, ‘Malcolm & Marie’ is set to enthral. Make sure you tune in for the release on Netflix, February 5 2021.