When it comes to upcoming Netflix films, “Malcolm and Marie” is one of the most highly anticipated after its recent trailer release. Written, shot and edited during the COVID-19 pandemic, the film has already generated Oscar buzz after it premiered from Netflix at a special screening co-hosted by the American Film Institute (AFI). Directed by Sam Levinson (“Euphoria”), the film stars John David Washington and Zendaya, who also worked with Levinson and stole the screen in “Euphoria” playing the troubled teen Rue.
Is “Malcolm and Marie” headed straight for the Oscars?
The trailer has already amassed more than 1.3 million views. ”Malcolm and Marie” tells the story of “when filmmaker Malcolm (John David Washington) and his girlfriend Marie (Zendaya) return home from a movie premiere and await his film’s critical response, [and] the evening takes a turn as revelations about their relationship surface, testing the couple’s love.” The trailer suggests the film will showcase an acting masterclass from the two leads as they unravel and pick each other’s characteristics apart over one long dark night.
Zendaya is arguably one of the biggest stars currently and has been showcasing her acting range in recent years from starring in cinematic blockbusters like the Spiderman franchise to HBO hit series “Euphoria,” where she became the second Black actress ever to win an Emmy award for Best Actress in a Drama Series in 2019. Based on early reactions to the film, the actors are in line to make a run for the lead actor/actress category for the upcoming Oscars.
Levinson is also in talks for a potential nomination for best director, although some of the judges on the Oscar panel may struggle with the over-the-top dialogue, which we saw a glimpse of in the trailer. Levinson wrote the screenplay for the film in eight days and shot it on a nimble set in Carmel in 2020.
Marcell Rév has also received praise for the film and is also expected to be in the race for this year’s Oscars in the cinematography category.
Exploring relationships in tight spaces
Levinson said he wanted the film to “speak to where we are right now, locked up, at home, in relationships, dealing with love and grievances and the joy of all that. Levinson’s last feature film was “Assassination Nation” in 2018, and he said this new film came from a very personal place.
“At the same time, I needed a catalyst for it: What’s a really terrible thing a person can do to their partner? Here’s the truth: I forgot to thank my wife (Ashley Levinson) at the premiere of ‘Assassination Nation,’ which was a brutal film to edit, and she was upset. I felt very guilty about it. Supposedly, we only talked about it on the car ride home. In my head, I imagined we’d had 1,000 conversations about it. I took that as the catalyst for this piece.”
Netflix bought the rights to the film last summer for US$30 million and worked closely with “Euphoria” star Zendaya in constructing the movie. Zendaya revealed her reasoning for doing this project: “As soon as [Levinson] talked about shooting it in black and white, trying to create a skeleton crew, it sounded incredible while sounding equally terrifying because I’ve never had the opportunity to be involved with something from its inception.”
Washington received a call from Levinson to star in the film, and with the way his last film “Tenet” was treated due to the pandemic, he was left in “a place of unknown and hankering for discovery, of self and of [his] artistry.”
“It was ironically the perfect time to do something like this given the unknown of this different kind of film that was rolling out,” Washington said, referring to “Tenet.”
The film is shot in black and white and is expected to arrive on Netflix on February 5.
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