By Mo Moss
Can we PLEASE talk about Malcolm & Marie? A triggering, intense, and (here we go) authentic film that captures the essence of so many things while damn-near being a stage play. In the days that followed the release of this movie, critics have slashed away at its lengthy dialogue, its candor, its aggressiveness at calling out critics and controversial issues shouted from the lungs of a black man. To the contrary, I feel the film should’ve been titled – and viewed – as Marie & Malcolm instead.
While people continue to drown in the opinionated, jarring, and loquacious monologues of Malcolm, they seem to miss out on the delicate beauty of Marie.
Her capability to ignore, brush aside, and handle Malcolm’s deflections of his own flaws in the form of personal verbal attacks.
Her ability to reasonably agree with his enemy.
Her lightheartedness – that allows her to realize the humor in his impassioned speeches.
Her passion and appreciation for her own story.
Her respect for herself.
While critics are having a party with their desire to connect the filmmaker to the messages they feel personally attacked for, they are not embracing the beauty of the simplicity of this film.
It is about a couple, arguing.
A couple – arguing.
Do you know how many damn couples argue?
Marriage Story won countless awards for the argument they had, which (in my opinion) was written well, but not as passionate, revealing, or triggering.
Triggering – let’s take a second on that bit.
When an audience feels triggered it is a GOOD THING. It means that the writing has touched them intimately within them. It means that the acting has pierced the third wall not by direct communication but by spiritually disintegrating the invisible barrier that reminds us all that we’re watching a movie. It means that our emotions are involuntarily snatched from their comfy, compartmentalized homes to sit in the front yard and view this spectacle they simply can’t help relating to.
These days – where our society is desensitized to the point of only caring about things for about eight seconds – getting triggered stimulates an ancient feeling of true relatability – a capacity to care and understand and empathize.
I felt that while watching this movie with my partner. I felt the PTSD from being in hour-long arguments with partners from the past – all the while being criticized as a way out of acceptance of personal responsibility. I felt the acceptance of being unheard and ignored and unappreciated, even with the innate knowledge the few words I spoke mattered just as much as the emotional soliloquies I had the patience to respectfully listen to. I felt the full appreciation I have to be with someone who is grateful for the things I do for him, and how I speak to him, and how I love him gently. I felt how much I value him for loving me with care, and understanding, and empathy.
I was triggered, and I loved it.
I grew up in theater – immersed in watching it and performing on stage. What I can say is that I miss the authenticity of film that is captured in a theatrical way. Malcolm & Marie did not depend on graphics, or green screen, or scenes in multiple settings, or lots of characters to tell this story.
It didn’t even depend on color.
It was dialogue and acting.
Raw, beautiful acting and raw, beautiful dialogue.
And for anyone who didn’t like it, instead of complaining I suggest doing what people who were inspired by it will do – write and create. Because whether or not this movie gets the credit it deserves, it was an absolute masterpiece for our culture, and I’m grateful and appreciative for its authenticity and its existence.
To the overly sensitive critics – get over it.