Malcolm And Marie: Why is The Film Black And White?

Malcolm and Marie, directed by Sam Levinson dropped on Netflix on 5th February 2021. This Netflix Original film shot completely in black and white tone has Zendaya as the leading lady playing Marie and John David Washington as Malcolm. The entire film is based on one fight the couple has on a night that was meant only for celebration.

A little warning: This article contains a bunch of *spoilers*, so read it only once you have watched the film.

First things first, Why is Malcolm And Marie Black and White?

Black actors didn’t get much representation in Hollywood’s golden black and white era. And apart from the fact that Black and White looks extremely aesthetic and timeless, this creative decision was also to pay a tribute to everyone who couldn’t make it to the big screens then.

“We weren’t as present in the black and white era, a lot of filmmakers have already done this before, a lot of Black filmmakers, so it’s not necessarily a new idea, but we did want to pay tribute to that era and reclaim that beauty and that elegance with these two Black actors.”, Zendaya said when she was asked the same question in a Good Morning America Interview. The fact that the film was made in black and white played a huge role in the costume and set design of the film as well. One of the costume designers on set, Law Roach, who is Zendays’s stylist, told the Cut that he chose a metallic dress so that it catches the light in the otherwise black and white screen.

“The most important note that I got from Sam Levinson is that the dress had to have movement because it was being shot in black-and-white. It needed to have a life — to catch that light from every angle and from every direction. It had to feel liquid and the metallic was a natural way for me to get that.”, Roach said.

About The Film:

Malcolm and Marie come with a warning that it is not a love story. It is not a romantic film you’re going to watch on Valentine’s week and feel fuzzy for a few days about it. The film is uncomfortable right from the beginning. It is a night of celebration but something in Marie’s body language tells you she is upset.

It is the night Malcolm’s film has premiered, and all he wants to do is celebrate. But earlier he had forgotten to even mention Marie in his speech. They begin fighting the worst fight of their lives. The night lays bare the problems of relationships and of the individuals as well. Marie accuses Malcolm of a bunch of things – for taking her for granted and forgetting to thank her for the success of a film that is based on her life, her struggles. As the night gets darker, so does their fight to get started unloading one thing after another.

Over the night, Marie blames Malcolm for keeping her from reaching her full potential, deeming him to be a needy person. She proves to him how she would be a better actor for his film because she has lived experience of it. It is when Malcolm realizes that she wasn’t just jealous of the actress of his film because she was insecure about their growing closeness. She was only disappointed about not being cast in the film and trying to hide her true feelings. But Malcolm isn’t the one who knows to de-escalate fights. Over the course of the night, he is heard using violent language and mansplaining Marie, nullifying the grounds for how she feels over the fact that he took care of her and was there by her side when she was an addict. It is almost impossible to trust one person, as both of them seem to be living their own truths in that relationship.

Perhaps, the reason the fight was so ugly is because they were being completely honest with each other after a long time. It is quite difficult to pick a side, who is wrong and who is not, to anticipate whether the two of them and their relationship will be able to survive the night. Malcolm and Marie, even though is shot in black and white, will leave you feeling grey.

You can watch the film on Netflix!

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