Levinson uses more than dialogue to keep the action moving. A one-location film could easily have felt claustrophobic or static, but Malcolm & Marie never does. The camera roams through the rooms, as we see the characters coming down a hallway, stepping onto the patio or moving from the kitchen to the living area or bedroom. The film was shot in a house full of gleaming windows, surrounded by woods, where the black-and-white shadows add a slightly ominous tone.
A film this alive deserves a fresher ending, instead of the bland, clichéd final sequence it fumbles into. Marie has a monologue about what she wanted Malcolm to thank her for, a list that lands as banal rather than genuine or moving. Like the song that plays over the end credits, Outkast’s Liberation, with the lyrics, “There’s a fine line between love and hate”, that last speech is too on the nose, its observations too shallow for this vibrant, perceptive film.
Malcolm & Marie is released globally on Netflix on 5 February.
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