Netflix’s Malcolm & Marie is intense and interesting. It’s a story about a filmmaker named Malcolm (John David Washington) and his girlfriend Marie (Zendaya) who engage in a hostile and at times heartbreaking heart-to-heart upon returning from an evening at Malcolm’s recent film premiere.
At the start of the film, I was intrigued by the beautiful black and white cinematography. It was a nice and iconic touch. And that cutout dress Zendaya rocked was everything. The soundtrack for the film was dope too, but as the film continued, I found myself instantly annoyed with Malcolm and deeply empathizing with Marie. Malcolm was riding high off the success of his recently released film, but he was also an arrogant and narcissistic jerk who bragged ad-nauseam about his success and his career. He did this to the point that he neglected to acknowledge the support he had from his girlfriend, Marie, who helped catapult his career-defining moment in the first place. Yet, she was someone who was overlooked, underappreciated, and forgotten during one of her boyfriend’s biggest moments.
Malcolm developed his script based on some of Marie’s real-life experiences as a former addict, and additionally used some of her other struggles as inspiration for his film too. When they returned home from his premiere, Marie was pissed with Malcolm when it’s learned that he publicly thanked just about everyone except Marie for his successful endeavor. And honestly, I think she had every right to be upset.
Sometimes when some of us have great moments in our lives when we’re thriving and winning, unfortunately, if we’re not careful we can become blind, clueless, and selfish to the point where we miss things we shouldn’t. Like remembering to thank those who really matter most. We can let our success get out of control and painfully begin to under-appreciate those who have supported us, and that’s a crappy thing to do to someone. Have we become a society so self-centered to the point where we fail to generously and sincerely say thank you to those closest to us when we’re doing good for ourselves? If so, I fear we’re not heading in a good direction.
A simple thank you really does go a long way and can mean the world to someone else. In Malcolm & Marie, it was wild to see how oblivious Malcolm was to Marie’s frustrations and pain. In the early stages of their fight, she tells him, “It’s not until you’re about to lose someone that you finally start to pay attention.”
Marie was Malcolm’s muse, and even though he loved her, he used her for his art, failed to thank her as things were coming together for him professionally, and then had the nerve to belittle, insult, and cruelly antagonize her when she called him out on his crap. They both said some mean and cutthroat things to one another and eventually managed to communicate better once things eased, but still, this story is a painful one to watch. It’s a reminder that while it’s great to want to be successful and enjoy the fruits of your success, you should never think so highly of yourself that you begin to underappreciate those who matter most.