Malcolm & Marie

Malcolm & Marie

Now, I can’t for the life of me remember the exact details that led to this situation, nor do I imagine I much want to, but in my senior year of high school I had a particularly bad panic attack that ended with me crying in the fetal position on the Long Beach boardwalk well into the night. Total strangers kept walking straight by, I’m sure they noticed, but one guy, bless his heart, tapped me on the shoulder.

“Are you alright, man? Need anything? Need a beer?”

I told him I appreciated the concern, but I was alright, so he walked off. I don’t know who this guy was, I don’t even think I saw his face, but I can tell you with certainty that he’s the same guy who read the script for Malcolm and Marie and asked Sam Levinson if there was anything he could do to help make this movie happen.

I see people knocking this for emotional inauthenticity, which I absolutely don’t understand. This is remarkably emotionally authentic, in the same way my public panic attack was, in the same way the screaming matches where I’ve taken my anxieties out on friends and family were. These are things that, when I woke up the next morning with a cooler head, I was tremendously embarrassed by. I hope Sam Levinson one day feels the same way about this film, but until then he should be ridiculed mercilessly for this “argument had entirely with himself” that works through stuff he probably should’ve gone to therapy for while simultaneously being a movie about racial/socioeconomic “identity politics“ written by one of the most privileged people in any room. Good work can come from this point where the horseshoe of self-love and self-hate intersects at the extremes, but this absolutely isn’t it. The notion that this of all things is the art people need to come together and brave a pandemic to create is so beyond alien to me that I find it genuinely upsetting to think about.

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