Malcolm & Marie may have received criticism for its over-the-top-laborious-nature and big-idea-athon (after all its a black and white film with only two notable actors, so was it full of itself? Perhaps.) But it did surface relevant points of discussion for film junkies and those interested in expanding black narratives. Albeit, it was directed, written, co-produced by Sam Levinson, so there's that.
Anyway these are the moments and questions that resonated with me (in no apparent order):
1. Film is the most capitalistic art medium
2. Marie speaks about the double edge sword of wanting white praise, acceptance but alienating the black audience with identity-films that touch on issues and trauma that black people are tired of. Why can't it not be about the artistry and skill of characters rather than politicizing every movie? (Marie also points to this paradox as she imitates the white reviewer and calls filmmakers hoes. Hoes in America.)
3. Seeing a couple tear each other is raw and emotional, but there is truth despite it’s hurtful aspect. It's raw, but maybe that how they understand each other. No one is perfect. They both have their faults, but they speak about it, vocalize their anger which makes their relationship truer, stronger and multi-faceted.
4. Marie confronts Malcolm about artists borrowing other peoples lives, which means they're not really creating or inventing, but just taking the life of someone else to make money. She asks him, is she nothing more than a muse?
5. "I don’t need you but I love you." ( I think Malcolm says this to Marie, and it's fucking hurtful. And not true, since his art is fueled by her life.)
6. Marie calls him mediocre because if he hadn’t know her, he would have nothing to create. He's stealing off someone’s else’s trauma, feeding America a borrowed story for the sake of capitalism
7. This is a meta film about how a black film should be perceived while giving us a neutral story about artistry with poignant technical aspects. It strips it away from identity, and it addresses it in a way that doesn’t envelope the whole movie.
8. Can a black artist escape the political world around them?
9. Art and life and who has ownership over it? Malcolm used her story for his movie and Marie missed her chance to tell her story the way she wanted to.
10. This film is an exploration of two people in a relationship and how one is a narcissist and Marie is caring and patient. It seems she has given up a lot for this relationship, or is trying to find meaning through Malcolm, but realizes he doesn’t care about her feelings or recognizes how much she’s done for him.
11. Malcolm is there for himself. “This is the best I’m going to get with you," he tells her.
12. In the end, Malcolm gives her the freedom to talk, and Marie explains that all she wanted was recognition that this was her story.
13. I like the way this film captures intimacy with stark set pieces, long hallways, mirrors, Marie's dainty body in the bathtub, and Malcolm's brooding looks at her. There's something unpredictable; as a viewer you don't know where the dialogue will take you.
14. I don't know if this film's minimalism was a construct of the time when it was filmed (during covid), or had it been planned this way long before, and covid mirrored its stark vibes.