Thank you, Marie…
Thank you. One would think that those two little words are not that important. That we are so used to using them, we take them for granted. Thank you. New Netflix movie Malcolm & Marie is all about… What is it really about? Love? Relationships? Career? Support? Or is it about appreciating what we take for granted.
If you’re gonna treat me like an insane person and call me crazy the least you could do is do it without casually eating macaroni and cheese.
First things first, I watched it on Friday night, I actually put Netflix on while still on call. I was so excited to see this film!!! Shot during spring lockdown in 2020, with just two people on the screen. Two people locked in one house (sweet one, must admit!). Isn’t it just a great, on-point bridge to our COVID reality? But yes, thank you M&M – I had to go to the store to buy me some mac and cheese ingredients because why not? Zendaya made it look so damn good! And quick.
Let me focus your attention on the technical for a moment – and you can thank me for the interesting insight later – shot during 2020 spring lockdown. Only few people on the set; a skeleton crew that is listed in two, three, four shots in the beginning of the film. Most of the crew worked with Zendaya on her HBO hit Euphoria (and I still owe you review of that show, and it was freaking brilliant). And… She made sure that they all got the share.
Out of technicalities that I really liked was that it was, it seemed like it was created with a little effort. In a way, this was a movie about filmmaking and all the struggles that comes with. Malcolm and Marie feels like a self-made piece of art. Zendaya did her own her and makeup, she brought her own clothes. She and John David Washington were credited as producers and they made sure that the crew is appreciated – with more than a thank you: “We got to create this financial structure where all of our crew members also got points on it, so when it sold, they made money as well, so hopefully that will be a system that can continue”.
I love the way you see the world, Marie.
In case you are wondering what are “points” – it’s sort of a share, shares of stock in a movie. Typically, one point = 1%. If the film makes money, every person that owns a point will get money. And this film will make money. Because it’s not just another movie. I was a bit scared, when I watched it; at times it felt like I was looking at myself in the mirror. I am pretty sure all of you would have the same feeling. M&M is universal, yet something absolutely extraordinary.
Story follows a “celebrational” night for a young couple – rising filmmaker Malcolm and his girlfriend Marie. This one night shakes to pillars of their relationship. One evening, when Malcolm forgets to thank his girlfriend, that supported him every step of the way.
Sam Levinson, the writer and director, highlighted a thing that most women do – we say “it’s fine, it’s cool” when we know damn well it’s not. I admit it – I do that sometimes. I say “it’s okay” when it’s not. But I am working on it, and since I am aware of the problem… This is the first step, right?
Now, why don’t we (not only women) say what we mean when, WHEN we feel it? We don’t want to hurt the other side is the most common answer. The other that comes to my head is that people need time to figure things out. This is my case – I am an overthinker; I need to process all words that I hear and make sense out of them in my head. And that is why I completely understood Marie, when she said she has changed her mind.
All I wanted tonight was a “thank you”, Malcolm. That is it.
But Marie is not crystal clear as well. This is a great panorama of a relationship – any relationship at some point. There are couples that learn and recover, and there some that won’t. Marie has this problem. And I think we all know that person in our lives that will do anything to break us. If you are passionate about something, you always want to share it with others, right? That is something I will talk about in a minute.
Marie wanted a simple thank you. But on the other hand, she was so scared and selfish, that she had to break Malcolm down; second guess all of his moves. This isn’t how any relationship should work – whether it’s a romance or friendship. Or even family. What is up with people not supporting each other? Listen. If there is someone around you who is genuinely passionate about something, appreciate it. Love them for it. Football, Star Wars, music, knitting – I don’t care.
Marie was a struggler and I understand that. She went through a rough patch and the anger is still inside her, but the choice to give up acting was hers. Malcolm didn’t make her do it, didn’t ask her to quit. And that is problem I see in people around me. They give up on things they love, because of this… Belief, that they can’t shine just as bright. Or because they think, that their support is what is carrying the “star” to the top.
Often though, it’s just the constant need for validation, that is poising the natural talent they chose to hide. Of course humans (me included) need to hear words of encouragement or praise. This is normal, and needed. Just remember, that it’s just like with saying “I love you” every 3 seconds – it loses its meaning. It’s sad and this is what Marie has done. And in return, she expected Malcolm to thank her, for all the things – watching the cuts, advising, being her, making him dinner.
Mystery. The unknown. It’s what supports the tension of a relationship. The “what if” factor. What if there’s someone who loved them better?
Being in any kind of relationship is a hard work. Every time you have to adjust to the dynamics, sometimes (often) we compromise to achieve common ground. What I find interesting though is how our behavior changes when we are around different people. The thing I will never tolerate is how couples are acting around other humans and how they act at home. Men often take things for granted. Don’t get me wrong, women do too, but with men it happens more often.
And Marie said it perfectly: “You know what, Malcolm? I feel like once you know someone’s there for you, and once you know they love you, you never actually think of them again. It’s not until you’re about to lose someone, that you finally pay attention.”
Watching Malcolm and Marie was like taking a long, hard look in the mirror. Asking myself: what parts of your soul did you see in them? The good ones, the sweet: when Marie couldn’t hold the laugh on Malcolm’s rage wave (this scene cracked me up so hard!) or when they were kissing on the carpet? The ugly and bad ones: when they looked for the ugliest things to say, to hurt the other side more?
Eye opener. Really, in a good way. I will always say this: if you are aware of your flaws, that’s the first step. Now, it’s up to you – and only you – to do something about it. So, are you just gonna talk about it, or will you act?
Don’t push away the people that ground you.
Why is it so hard for people to say thank you? Is it the shame? Or what? Why, oh why do we keep taking people around us for granted? We feel so damn sure they will stick around forever. Nothing is forever, sadly. Well, maybe apart from plastic. Nevertheless – I was caught in this trap. I thought I had a “forever friend” in someone, and I was wrong. Now, we could debate whether it was my fault or hers, but what would be the purpose? At some point, we just realized that we are not looking into the same direction. It happens, though I am not going to lie – it ripped a piece of my heart out.
Is this why so many relationships fail? People stop looking the same way. They stop, or they realize that they never were, which is even worse. If one side sacrifices the career or passion for the other, sooner or later, they will be unhappy. This is the case with my mum sometimes. I know that she wanted to stay home with me and my brother. But she says that maybe if she could do things differently…
See, the thing is: you can never, NEVER EVER, make yourself dependent on the other side. Never. Not emotionally, not financially. Because what happens, if they walk away? I know that my dad would never do that, but what if? There is always a “what if”. I don’t want to be with someone because I need them. If anything, I want the love. The trust, the friendship. This can never be a necessity.
You want control because you can’t imagine the reason I’m with you is because I love you. Everything that you’ve been through. Everything. That’s what made you you. The girl that I love.
Malcolm was being an asshole – he rubbed his success in Marie’s face and did not say thank you. He thanked everyone but her. This is the thing with passion – if you over-gloat, it becomes an issue. Be passionate, be full of love, lust and hunger for it but never, never make… The other side hate it.
Oh God. This is the saddest thing in the world – making someone hate all the things they used to love. I think I am a victim of this crime. Suddenly, they are no longer a source of joy for me. More like an obligation to watch or listen, because “I should, it’s the right thing”. I hope that one day my love for them will be restored, but for now…
I know it’s difficult. Sometimes I feel like I am too much, too excited about something or someone but that is my issue: I am a fan, a cheerleader, a hype-woman. I know that I need to work on that and control it, but it is hard. But does it mean that we should stop? Never. Welcome to my TED talk, you can thank me later.
Look at me. I’m the last person standing. Hold on to me for dear life.
Malcolm & Marie is a sensational movie – it is an insight to a loving relationship that seems perfect. But in reality, it is far from that. It’s a rocky road, full of pain and happiness; tears and laughter. We can witness it, and it feels like we are peeking on our next-door neighbors. The couple tries to communicate, when they realize that one of the issues was lack of proper, clear and transparent communication. They use various means: insults, swear words, slamming doors and… Songs, which sadly results in more miscommunication.
This film talks a lot about how people see art – and how they feel the constant need to explain it. Explain everything they see, assign meaning and label to it. Art should be mysterious. Filmmakers often say, that they did something because it felt right – technically – and not, because it has some deeper meaning. People often look at the person crafting, rather than at the art they created. We judge book by the cover, wondering why they used this font inside.
The other thing Sam Levinson talks about is how few words – or lack of them for that matter (thank you) can impact our relationships. Impact so fatally, we regret sharing so much with the other side. Been there, done that. It is a horrible feeling, trust me. It makes you feel… Like you are not good enough or worth getting known.
You are by far the most excruciating, difficult, stubbornly obnoxious woman I’ve ever met in my entire life.
Both Zendaya and John David Washington gave outstanding performances. JDW said that it was a challenge for him, to find his character but… It just clicked and he showed us the magic. For me, it was a huge surprise – a damn fine one. I had a fresh memory of TENET and BlacKkKlansman – both different but kind of safe. Malcolm was edgy, rude, balancing on the verge of… Emotional terrorist.
On the other side, young Zendaya who started as a Disney kid and evolved into mature, self-aware, spectacular performer (and, as I mentioned, a businesswoman). Her performance was fierce, emotional and made me like her even more.
Overall, this was an interesting experiment – turns out that you don’t need much to make a fantastic movie. 2 actors, great story (based on real life, real circumstances), pandemic, lock down and you are good to go. Yet at the same time, I am not sure everyone could pull that off. Watch it, because it’s worth it. Perhaps you will not see yourself in neither Malcolm or Marie. But maybe you will realize, that life is a work in progress and as long as we want it, we can change it.