Washington stars as Malcolm, an up-and-coming filmmaker celebrating his first big success on a very special night. Malcolm’s partner Marie (Zendaya) is right by his side, but what should be a shining moment for the couple quickly devolves into a very heated, very drawn out argument. As the trailer shows, trouble has been simmering under the surface for quite some time between these two, and the night quickly brings the tension to a head. Like any long-term couple, Malcolm and Marie oscillate between heated conversations and tender touches, their anger towards each other complicated by their long history and obvious mutual love.
“You are by far the most excruciating, difficult, obnoxiously stubborn woman I’ve ever met in my entire life,” Malcolm tells Marie. “I fucking love you.”
“He’s so sensitive, romantic...I bet he’s sweet, right?” Marie retorts (in between cuts of the pair screaming at each other). “When he’s not being an emotional fucking terrorist.”
The Sam Levinson project doesn’t describe itself as a love story but as a story of love, highlighting the particularly messy and uncomfortable parts of relationship that people would rather hide. Zendaya and Washington actually revelled in how toxic their characters are because that’s reality — sometimes, love is chaos. Yet, even in their realistic portrayal of romantic relationships, the stars are fully aware that Malcolm and Marie might be seen as more unlikable than relatable.
“When I read the script, I immediately thought, Everyone’s gonna hate Marie,” admitted Zendaya in conversation with Medium's LEVEL. "I thought, How is she ever going to come back from this?"
"Imma be out here getting cancelled," joked Washington. "I need to make it clear. I am not Malcolm. At all. My motto is 'Shalom in the home.' Period."
Both Malcolm and Marie say some pretty nasty things during their massive blowout, things so bad that the actors behind them aren't even sure which character will be most hated once the movie hits Netflix on February 5. Whether you hate one or both by the time the end credits roll, its stars believe that you'll at least be able to empathise towards the fictional couple.
"In real life, we try to live in a nonjudgemental space," explained Zendaya. "And we look at these characters as so bad for each other. And yet, there’s something about them together that we can relate to. There’s something about them together. People can watch this film and say, I would never go that far or dig that deep into someone that I love. But are we sure?"
"There will be something in this film you can relate to," Washington promised. "Maybe you don’t fight and argue like Malcolm and Marie. But maybe you know the vulnerability that they each show...We all have our thing."
Malcolm & Marie will be available for streaming on February 5, only on Netflix.