Malcom & Marie: A Story of Love

By Leah Mize 

Zendaya had the most productive quarantine as Netflix’s newest romantic drama movie was filmed during the summer of 2020 with adherence with strict guidelines and precautions to ensure the safety of the cast and crew. Malcolm & Marie began streaming on Netflix on Friday, Feb. 5. 

The film, shot in black and white 35 mm, stars John David Washington and Zendaya as the titular characters Malcolm and Marie respectively. The movie follows Malcolm, a filmmaker, and Marie, his girlfriend, on the night Malcolm’s movie is premiering. It was written and directed by Sam Levinson, the creator of HBO’s Euphoria, which Zendaya also stars in. The premise is inspired by events from Levinson’s own life as he is a creative in Hollywood with a wife who is only connected to the industry through him. Ashley Levinson, Sam’s wife, is credited as a producer on the film in addition to Washington and Zendaya. 

According to an article published in Teen Vogue, only 12 people were allowed to be on set at any given time. When cast and crew were on set they were required to wear face masks whenever they could and physical distancing was heavily enforced. The cast and crew were also required to quarantine for two weeks before and after filming in addition to the time they spent filming. Other COVID-19 precautions taken on set during filming include frequent temperature checks and constant sanitation. The crew was reduced to essential workers only, meaning that crew members such as makeup artists, hair stylists, and costume designers were not part of the crew on set. 

Because of this, Zendaya did her own hair and makeup throughout filming and also provided her own wardrobe by wearing her own clothes. Washington was responsible for his own makeup, hair, and wardrobe as well. 

The movie has received mixed reviews so far as critics have enjoyed the performances of Zendaya and Washington but have found issues with the film’s screenplay. Zendaya described the film as showing a “story of love rather than a love story.” 

Just because it is a romantic drama being released eight days before Valentine’s Day does not mean that the film will be a feel-good flick. The film shows all the moments that come with a romantic relationship instead of solely the Kodak ones that would be memorialized on Facebook or Instagram. 

The film has drawn controversy for the over ten year age gap between Zendaya and John David Washington. Zendaya is 24 while Washington is 36 years old. In an interview with E! News Daily Pop, Zendaya suggested that the reason why it was hard for audiences to see her as the adult she is now is due to the fact that she’s been playing teenage roles since she was a teenager on the Disney Channel. She likens her career to being a younger sister and this is why it is hard for people to let go of the image of her in their minds. She is no longer on Disney Channel and no longer has the roles she used to have but because they were so memorable and audiences relied on them to identify her, it is hard for her to publicly evolve as an actress.

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