Daejah’s review published on Letterboxd:
I am maybe about to put too much time into this review but I can’t think of a star review so anyways:
Writing— Sam Levinson making this script overtly concerned with race from the first 5 pages is so far beyond misguided. There is no way for him, as the sole writer, to have any insight on this. Like Malcolm talking about the “white lady from the LA Times.” Someone tell Sam Levinson Black people talk about that stuff differently in rooms where it’s only black people, there’s no way for him to know what that sounds like. Honestly it feels like a white guy validating his victim complex by projecting race/racism onto the baseless surface. Marie was better written that Malcolm because Marie’s character is a hurt mistreated and under appreciated woman in a relationship in decay, Sam can write that. Malcolm, though, isn’t just a filmmaker with an over-inflated sense of importance. He’s a BLACK filmmaker with [...] Levinson made his character undetachable from his race within the first few minutes and Levinson very simply isn’t Black.
Acting— I think both performances were good but Zendaya was phenomenal. Reading the script and then seeing what they each brought to the role it was incredible how she generated Marie. But John David Washington was... good. Just good. His monologue was powerful but hard to watch (because of how vile Malcolm is not bc of JDW). Zendaya was just believable and larger than life in a role for every character that feels small.
Cinematography & Editing: no me gusta. I think a good deal of the dialogue from this movie was very Play-like and could have benefitted from camera work that matched. I think the camera moves too damn much. Also, framing things with windows and sore frames and mirrors and etc is cool but Jesus Christ you don’t have to do it in every single shot. It seems to pretty obviously draw from Edward Albee’s play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. The opening sequence is a pretty exact homage to the opening of Mike Nichols 1966 movie adaptation. I wish this movie took a page from Nichols and let shots linger for a bit longer instead of jumping to so many different angles. This was most annoying when M&M sat smoking outside. Like please. Relax. Black and white worked well though.
Final thoughts: John David Washington saying this movie is so romantic is why men shouldn’t speak.... ever.