On Writing

Poem 57 – malcolm & marie

malcolm & marie
a haiku

marie’s white girl voice
dances a tango of truth
in shades of ripe grey 



Malcolm & Marie, a thunderstorm of a film written and directed by Sam Levinson and starring Zendaya and John David Washington, pulled me into its glamorous black and white world (oh the layers of meaning in these two words/worlds) where nothing is black and white…and everything is black and white. I was riveted as I watched, feeling shards of Mike Nichols’ 1966 relationship rage film ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?‘, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, fall around me on my sofa. Yes, there are comparisons to be made between these two films, each at their essences grand, masterful, slick and precise reflections of love between two people and their love for themselves…or the pendulum swing between loving and hating one’s self and how that affects the other. Malcolm & Marie is complicated and outrageous and perfect and sublime and maddening. What a cocktail!

I barely breathed for the slamming of dynamic dialogue and outstanding performances between and by Washington and Zendaya. I felt myself attach to Marie’s thin white tank top and hang on for dear life. It’s been weeks since the film first smacked me in the face and my cheeks are still stinging. This two-character wild ride was filmed during the current pandemic when real-life isolation adds a thick layer of greasy emotions to ‘work’ no matter what the work is. There are many great interviews, in words and in video, about the making of this film and the outcomes of the film, all of which are worth grinding into on a Sunday afternoon. It’s an emotional, educational and enigmatic hole in which to fall into – you’ll land on your feet, but you’ll be off-balance, as the themes in the film will have spun you about in the best of ways.

MALCOLM & MARIE (L-R): ZENDAYA as MARIE, JOHN DAVID WASHINGTON as MALCOLM. DOMINIC MILLER/NETFLIX © 2021

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