Malcolm and Marie: Boring & Self-Indulgent Cage Match

Malcolm and Marie is a pretentious movie trying to find a reason to exist.

Malcolm is a filmmaker on the brink of success. He is also a self-absorbed egotistical asshole who thinks that making a movie is not about providing perspective, it’s about interpreting reality. But he fails to thank the person whose life inspired his movie. Marie is pissed.

In fairness, the script doesn’t make an asinine comment that she’s being emotional. The first 25 minutes of this movie are great. It tackles authorship and ownership channeled through a couple with resentment and unresolved issues.

Malcolm shouts and belittles Marie across the house while devouring Mac and Cheese that she made (metaphor!). He admits that his movie about a 20-year old female drug addict won’t be as good if they weren’t together. This exchange is the best moment in the movie.

Everything goes downhill from there.

Malcolm and Marie turn into a self-indulgent exhausting bore. This two-hander is about a couple who verbally abuse each other for nearly two hours.

The argument is redundant and circular, with retorts that you would’ve composed in the shower days after a fight in real-life. The movie touches on authenticity, artistic intention, and commerce in art but they’re lost in overwritten speeches. 

This stagey approach to a toxic relationship makes it look and feel like you’re not watching two people. What you see is two actors doing their best to sell Sam Levinson’s ideas through monologues. This is why Malcolm’s tirade about journalists and critics is easily seen as the writer-director’s grievances channeled through a fictional mouthpiece. 

John David Washington and Zendaya give spirited performances in beautiful monochrome cinematography. But their argument registers as an acting exercise rather than an emotionally authentic reality of the characters they play. Nothing feels genuine.

In the end, Marie eventually spells it out for Malcolm because he’s too far up his own ass to say thank you. And what do you get out of their argument? 106 minutes of your life that you’ll never get back.

Malcolm and Marie is an overlong pedestrian drama that’s less a crucible for a couple’s relationship and more as a series of rants from a writer-director who’s trying to make a statement that the audiences will be too exhausted to remember.

Malcolm and Marie


Malcolm and Marie is a boring exhausting drama about a couple verbally abusing each other, made marginally tolerable by great performances.

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