When Malcolm & Marie was first announced in July
, it sounded like a promising salve from the pandemic in the form of a mysterious, pared-down, beautiful film starring Levinson’s Euphoria
collaborator and muse, Zendaya, and John David Washington (both are also producers). The combination of two of the brightest Black talents in Hollywood and a secret project shot during the pandemic that didn’t involve Zoom recordings was enough to get our hopes up. Sexy Black couple squabbling in a confined space? Sign us up. But what Levinson delivers is not what was advertised. And even Zendaya’s extraordinary talent
(she manages to be riveting throughout a film that is mostly unwatchable) can’t elevate the material to anything remotely worthy of her magnetism. As for Washington, his character Malcolm is such a reprehensible human that it’s hard to tell if it’s his performance that is lacking or if the bigger problem is what he’s been given to work with. Malcolm is basically the incarnation of that gif of Denzel Washington, his dad, pounding his fist on a table
— but meaner, louder, and more insufferable.