There’s an old proverb that ‘pressure makes diamond’ Sam Levinson should make a tattoo about that on his forehead. When the restrictions in connection with the pandemic started last March the filmmakers and artists had two choices: Go on a sabbatical leave and rethink all your purpose and imagination or make a movie which doesn’t require huge sets, enormous cast, big pile of money however make no compromises about the quality and suspense. Sam Levinson made the second choice.
It does count when You – Sam Levinson – makes a movie with your long time creative partners such as your favorite cinematographer Marcell Rév, your favorite actress Zendaya, who decided to produce the film, another A-list star John David Washington who also thought this project was worth investing in. He also wrote the script and edited it. This huge amount of work and coordination took only a fortnight to make happen so if you are familiar with the slowness of filmmaking and the barriers of discussing and preparing this as a respectful effort to present this deep and enjoyable drama to the audience.
The story depicts a real time conversation and quarrel between a couple who have just arrived from the premiere night of Malcolm’s debut movie to their stay in a fancy Malibu villa. Marie just spits out that the acclaimed director has forgotten to thank her in his speech, the help, emphasis and life experience which were painted of her in his film.
And the tsunami hits: old wounds are torn up by the different place of a man and woman in a relationship that are also mentioned in witty sharp conversations and the two actors are brilliant interpreters of Levinson’s doubts and weaknesses. Yes, it is not a misspell Malcolm AND Marie are also the director’s avatars who are fighting at the same time in his mind. He has strong opinions on whether ‘black-art or black direction’ has a political ground in Hollywood either the critics or the audience should only value the art form and expression not mentioning the color of the artist.
Since the DOP is one of the most talented Hungarians in Hollywood, we may speak a little of the lighting and colors in the movie. The two colors are black and white according to Rév there were no doubt that this suffocating atmosphere required this method and the lighting of the conversations are local chandeliers or even the light of a lighter when Marie smokes a cigarette.
We viewers are magnetized in this shady environment as if we were sitting in the dark just listening and observing this angry beautiful couple. This brilliant solution of him considering that a chamber play alone is a monochrome type of filmmaking and for this movie became an asset rather than a disturbing snobbish allure.
We have the feeling that this will be a multi-awarded festival movie with all the cast (the two of them) nominated for all of its distant intelligence and precise work. Also we will watch our dialogs and fights with our partner about the meaning of our hugely grounded existence in the relationship and on a dull Saturday night we can hit each other in the face emotionally and verbally.
All the people in long-term relationships should watch it. And singles too. Available on Netflix from January.
Dia Linda Szabó