Is Malcolm & Marie a True Story?

Director Sam Levinson’s (‘Euphoria’) ‘Malcolm & Marie’ is a relationship drama that explores the unflattering and unpleasant sides of a relationship. It revolves around a young filmmaker (John David Washington) and his girlfriend (Zendaya). They return home after attending the premiere of Malcolm’s most recent film; he is ecstatic and giddy. Malcolm spoke to several critics after the premiere, and they had only good things to say about the film. He has been active in the industry for a while, but none of his previous films have received positive feedback. As he eagerly waits for the reviews to come out, he can’t ignore that Marie looks like she is deeply unhappy about something.

It is revealed that Malcolm didn’t remember to thank Marie during his speech at the premiere while mentioning virtually everyone else. They spend the next couple of hours viciously arguing back and forth, during which nothing is off-limits. After its release, ‘Malcolm & Marie’ received mostly positive reviews from the critics. If the raw and unflinching portrayal of a couple’s fight has made you wonder whether the film is based on real-life events, here is what we have been able to find out.

Is Malcolm & Marie Based on a True Story?

No, ‘Malcolm & Marie’ is not based on a true story. Levinson wrote the script for the film himself. The trailer describes the movie not as a “love story” but as “the story of love.” Through his two protagonists, Levinson explores all the facets of love, along with several closely-associated sentiments including gratitude, acknowledgment, and authenticity. Apart from that, Malcolm’s profession allows Levinson to delve deep into the theoretics of filmmaking, film history, and film criticism. The character’s frustration about the industry should resonate with any young filmmaker.

As an artist, Malcolm refuses to be boxed into the limitations of his racial and sexual identities, declaring that a film doesn’t always need to have a profound message. It can be fun and entertaining and still be as rewarding as any award-winning project. Add to that the scorched earth brutality of the two protagonists’ fights and ‘Malcolm & Marie’ becomes a unique entry among relationship dramas. For example, in the 2019 film ‘Marriage Story,’ the no-holds-barred, apocalyptic fight comes only in the climax, leaving the two main characters, Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) and Charlie (Adam Driver), emotionally drained. Malcolm and Marie do not have that shortcoming.

They both seem to have limitless malevolent energy that renders them incapable of de-escalating a situation. Another film that explores this malevolence is the 1966 black-comedy drama ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ Mike Nichols’s debut venture is the cinematic adaptation of Edward Albee’s 1962 namesake play. It follows the middle-aged couple Martha (Elizabeth Taylor) and George (Richard Burton) as they entertain a much younger pair, Nick (George Segal) and Honey (Sandy Dennis).

As the evening progresses, Nick and Honey become unwitting witnesses to the bitter and cruel methods with which Martha and George entertain themselves at each other’s expense. Evidently, the recurring theme of relationships and their many nuances make for thought-provoking films. Plus, according to Levinson, ‘Malcolm & Marie’ was made out of the desire to create something that would be “emotionally resonant” at the time. However, he rejected the notion that Malcolm and Marie are inspired by his own relationships, adding that the fights are based on the internal dialogues that he has with himself.

Read More: Where Was Malcolm & Marie Filmed?