Malcolm & Marie

Malcolm & Marie ★★

I will always welcome an insightful argument about the elitist and white-dominated state of film criticism, especially from a non-white perspective and/or one that isn’t so mined from the overdone “fuck critics” mentality that Hollywood loves to perpetuate in films. Levinson’s argument becomes invalid almost immediately as it comes from a self-indulgent, mean-spirited place of scorn. Meanwhile, he’s a white male filmmaker who thrived off of nepotism as the son of an esteemed filmmaker. While Malcolm and Marie go back and forth, referencing this “white woman from the LA Times” in a hostile manner, all you hear is the voice of Sam Levinson in a surreal Anomalisa-esque way.

Based on the way Malcolm is written and how he articulates his thoughts as a Black filmmaker in Hollywood, Levinson must have a narrow-minded view of Black filmmakers and film criticism. While yes, Black filmmakers get frustrated by the reception from white critics — who often critique their works by comparing them to those of other popular Black filmmakers — they don’t get completely hung up on it, nor would they go for an over-the-top, one-dimensional, self-indulgent rant that shits on the profession as a whole. Malcolm & Marie has much to say about film criticism being so white and the white perception of Black art, selfishly thinking it's doing us a favor or adding to a conversation that has already been discussed too often. Never for a moment does it address or seek the perspective of Black voices within film criticism. The film acts as if non-white — and, more importantly, Black critics — simply don’t exist. That’s why Malcolm never felt like an authentic Black filmmaker or character to me. There are so many things that aren’t touched upon, including those that are so personal to our experiences as Black critics who often interact with Black artists. Many Black filmmakers today look towards their demographic and read critiques from Black writers. This film would make sense if it had come out prior to Rotten Tomatoes’ 2018 diverse pool change, but so much has changed since then. At this moment in time, Black filmmakers don't give a shit about white reviews to that extent. Black filmmakers find their audiences and their critics and latch onto them, but the movie doesn't address that at all. Malcolm is a caricature of a Black filmmaker that could only have been written by a white man.


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