Malcolm & Marie, the arty film Zendaya and John David Washington shot in secret with Euphoria creator Sam Levinson, is coming to Netflix on February 5. While much about the specifics of the plot remains secret, we can at least deduce from the trailer that it centers on Zendaya’s character’s tempestuous relationship with a paramour whose name has all the letters M, A, C in his name. We’re talking, of course, about that fickle late-night lover: boxed mac and cheese.
In the trailer, Zendaya prepares some mac and cheese in a sleek, modern California kitchen in a house away from the city, all while fighting with John David Washington — a tertiary character, one assumes, after the macaroni — and wearing a frankly gorgeous dress with a lot of exposed skin. There’s an interplay of danger in the act, given that she has to boil water, and I feel for the risks she assumed on set, given that I have a scar from pouring hot tea on myself while wearing a tank top earlier this week. “Mystery,” Zendaya announces in voice-over while pouring the pasta from a box into a bubbling pot of water. “The unknown, it’s what supports the tension of a relationship.”
Then, incongruously, the trailer shows Zendaya whacking open a stick of butter, which feels like something she would only get around to doing minutes later when the pasta is finished and the cheesy sauce is ready to be made. I can only hope that this is meant to reveal that Marie has a weird cooking process or that the continuity error is addressed in the final cut. Anyway.
As Marie argues with Malcolm, who insists that she is angry — Yes, obviously, why make boxed mac and cheese in a calm emotional state? — she pours out the macaroni into a colander, bounces it a few times, and glares at Malcolm. The sound of hot water whistling elsewhere implies that the two of them plan to pair their mac and cheese with tea (or that the trailer editor thought the whistle sound would be cool — either one).
It’s a deeply glamorous act that inspires many questions. Foremost among them: Where did she put the pasta after she carried the colander away from the sink? Is she using another pot or bowl for the cheese sauce? Why, when that first saucepan looked very good and expensive? Marie! So wasteful about kitchen mess. I assume this is another key character trait.
From there, the trailer abandons the mac and cheese for some intense black-and-white glowering about the relationship dynamics of this human couple that I care less about. But then! We briefly return to the mac and cheese as we see Marie transporting a pan and twirling with Malcolm in a triptych.
Clearly this is a religious experience for them. And it offers an opportunity to get a closer look at the specific brand Zendaya is preparing, which I zoomed in on for the sake of thorough mac-and-cheese journalism. At first, I had assumed that Malcolm and Marie would be Annie’s people, because they seem a little pretentious, but that big ’roni curl is pretty unmistakable: This is a Kraft box.
There you have it. Malcolm & Marie is a seductive ode to the thrill of making cheap, quick pasta dishes, coming to you on Netflix, presumably sponsored by the Kraft Heinz corporation.