Malcolm & Marie

Movie review by Jennifer Green, Common Sense Media
Malcolm & Marie Poster Image

Common Sense says

age 17+

Stellar performances in drama with sex, swearing, drugs.

R 2021 106 minutes

Parents say

age 17+

Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 16+

Based on 9 reviews

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

A Lot or a Little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 17+

A pandemic film with A LOT of talking

Hmmm...this film definitely has its moments where it excels and others where it falls a bit flat...it is definitely very verbose. The conversations feel a bit stilted at times, a bit like a clunky play. There is good chemistry between the lead actors, the but many transitions feel a bit forced...still, the some of the conversations feel interesting, others less so and what Levinson has to say about critics...just wow...frickin went for it...gloves off and everything.
age 18+

21st Century Love Story

Malcolm and Marie review Much has been said, mostly unfavorably, about Levinson’s new cinematic offering. Critics lambasting the 8-minute monologue by Washington’s character Malcolm, as Levinson doing a ventriloquist act, shouting his disdain for film critics; others claiming it didn’t feel genuine and the character’s arguing was repetitive; and the NYT’s, quoting the script when Marie postulates that ‘nothing productive will be said tonight’. Although all the reviews certainly have their valid points, (albeit maybe too contextually), however, for my viewing they’ve missed the idea entirely. The antics about critics, the repetitiveness and their character’s own self involvement are just window dressing, for what is the real core and essence of the film. The title can be your lamplight, so to speak. It is a film about two people in a relationship, the rest; what they do and what they discuss or argue about, isn’t what the film is about. It is a power struggle- its about who is chasing and who is being chased. Essentially all love stories are, at the core, simply a dance of leadership. When one person loses that interest to chase and ‘dominate’ or the chased declines being ‘dominated’, this is when relationships end, or at least in passionate ones. Of course, there are many varieties of partnerships- but Malcolm and Marie are in a passionate, sexually charged one, that is very complex. They are both highly intelligent and psychologically proficient at pushing each other’s buttons-it is secondary that he is a director or that she is a recovering drug addict – all incidental- what matters is how they argue and how the drama plays out between them. The director played an adept hand juxta positioning their characters stance at various point of the film that was at once telling and poignant. Marie (Zendaya) was often framed like a lioness lounging provocatively, sometimes above Malcolm; in most of the scenes, as their characters are picking their way through their power game- she takes the high ground. Even in the beginning of the film, the audience is presented with an upshot of Marie as Malcolm is trying to seduce her with sexual foreplay. She is completely in charge, indifferent- Malcolm is in the dog house- as the direction shows us. The film is framed around her disappointment about Malcolm’s failure to thank her. And he clearly knows, from his expression and body language that he must pay for this digression. We see his acknowledgment of the argument; the pain, the anguish and the time he knows he will have to endure and invest, due to his lack of propriety. Most seasoned writers know, that it is more important to show, than to tell. Here in Malcolm and Marie, Levinson does this beautifully. Even through Marie’s obvious heartache for being cast aside in the accolade department, she is most definitely, in this relationship, the one who is being chased, she is in charge and owns him- hook line and sinker; however, she craftily doesn’t let him get away with it; this is the crux of the film. When the audience thinks, surely, he will end this and order her to leave – he physically comes back for more. He walks back into the room multiple times- seeks her out- tries, unsuccessfully, several times, to seduce her. There is one tour de force scene for Zendaya, that is paramount above the rest, when she shows Malcolm just how authentic she is-the tension was palatable- as was his fear. The end shot where we see Marie (Zendaya) framed on a hill outside a window from their home- Malcolm goes to her- he has bowed to the inevitable, like Muhammad going to the mountain.

Movie Details

Our Editors Recommend

  • She's Gotta Have It Poster Image

    She's Gotta Have It

    Spike Lee's breakout comedy has lots of nudity and sex.

    age 17+
  • Sylvie's Love Poster Image

    Sylvie's Love

    Melodramatic, old-fashioned romance has sex, mature themes.

    age 13+
  • The Photograph Poster Image

    The Photograph

    Genuine romantic drama positively showcases Black love.

    age 13+
  • Do the Right Thing Poster Image

    Do the Right Thing

    Spike Lee's masterwork of racial unrest; discuss with kids.

    age 16+

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

  • Cartoon picture of ballet slippers and paint brush
    Arts and Dance
    See all

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate