A Tale As Old As Time: Malcolm & Marie And The Narrative of Abuse

Malcolm & Marie Abuse BeLatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of Premiere.

Malcolm & Marie aired on Netflix on February 5. The movie was highly anticipated with the well-known actress from HBO’s “Euphoria,” Zendaya, as the lead actress. The black & white film was shot poetically, with beautiful architecture and frames hard not to appreciate. 

What lies beyond Malcolm & Marie’s imagery, though, is the abuse a woman like Zendaya endures from her spouse — an abuse not only seen on screen but that continues to happen in our everyday lives. 

Women continue to suffer physical and psychological abuse at alarming rates, despite the progress made in the last five or six decades. We still face a need to be submissive and bow our heads down when fighting with our significant other, and that is just simply not okay. 

In Malcolm & Marie, the first scene opens with Zendaya at the kitchen seemingly cooking while Malcolm, a self-righteous filmmaker, is going on a tangent about his awards night. After a few dialogue lines, she walks away while he sits to eat the Mac and Cheese she made him. 

Her point: He thanked multiple people who helped him win an award, except her. Her take is that aside from being by his side, the story is based on her depression, addiction, and recovery battles. 

The first instance of witnessing abuse and recognizing it first hand on Malcolm & Marie was when he gaslit her by saying she was ‘mentally unstable, and ‘F***king delusional.’ To which she responds, “Are you actually yelling and belittling me from across this house because you are too busy eating mac and cheese?” 

What is even more absurd in some eyes is that Malcolm & Marie is categorized as a love story, where the description on the streaming website says it is a “tumultuous night will test the limits of their love.” Instead, it should be what it clearly depictures: an emotionally abusive relationship. One where if you’re watching, and you feel overwhelmingly relatable to Zendaya’s role, then you should reevaluate the relationship you’re in. 

Now, do not get it wrong. A toxic relationship takes two and both parties’ arguments. However, that does not excuse Malcolm from the insults and descriptive language he used to strip her down to her bare essence when she was only looking to be thanked.