Slim and Queen’s first date takes an unexpected turn when a policeman pulls them over for a minor traffic violation. When the situation escalates, Slim takes the officer’s gun and shoots him in self-defense. Now labelled cop killers in the media, Slim and Queen feel that they have no choice but to go on the run and evade the law. When a video of the incident goes viral, the unwitting outlaws soon become a symbol of trauma, terror, grief and pain for people all across the country.
When swiping right goes wrong. It sounds funny but there’s nothing inherently comical about Queen & Slim. Written by Lena Waithe and James Frey, the story serves as a sort of period piece. It just happens to be the period of time that we are currently living in. While tackling a polarizing subject, the film is ultimately a love story. Blossoming from such a chaotic and tragic situation, the love blooms as if it were a lotus flower. Growing out of blood, gun smoke, and fear instead of mud, the story is almost Shakespearean in how it unfolds. Jump starting from an intense police interaction that ends in with the officer losing his life, the duo who were on a simple Tinder date become wanted criminals. It’s a story that goes south literally and figuratively. The film is scored by artist, Blood Orange who was able to curate the perfect sound and feel for every scene. Additionally, the soundtrack serves as a guide to the story, telling you the area, vibe, and history of each stop and situation that arises. In New Orleans, we hear bounce music by Megan Thee Stallion and while sittin’ on dubs we hear Still Tippin’. It all runs together smoothly. I was bobbin’ my head throughout the entire film. While many refer to the film as a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde, the story is original and should be viewed as such. It’s a story of opposites and contrast, connections and discovery, love and death. We get to see how narratives are spun and how people who are often victimized by law enforcement feel. It’s a story that we don’t often get to see, at least through the eyes of people of color. In this riveting emotional roller coaster, you will be moved by the rhythm, engulfed by the story, and left with one huge question. As a black person in America, this movie affected me differently than it may you. The confrontation with the officer is a terrifying situation that looms in my mind every time a cop car is behind me. Not only is it a must-see because of how stunning the film is, but it opens up dialogue for topics that many of us avoid. I highly recommend Queen & Slim, an exciting outlaw love story that all can enjoy. Power to the people.
Plot & Pace
Two strangers meet for a Tinder date at a quaint diner and it’s not going very well. The two don’t have much in common besides being lonely. Queen is an attorney and Slim works at a grocery store. On the car ride home, Slim is driving them both as the two are pulled over by an aggressive police officer. As a result, the officer is shot and killed and the duo now has to figure out a plan. They decide they need to get as far away from Ohio as possible. The entire incident is caught on the officer’s dashcam and the Queen and Slim, real names Ernest and Angela, are now fugitives. The video of the incident goes viral and the couple simultaneously become heroes and villains. As incidents like this often do, it causes a racial divide but in this instance, we see and know the whole truth. The pacing is perfect. Every time you think that it’s about to get slow, something to drive the narrative happens. With important pauses for character development and cinematic shots, it’s not only introspective but at times idyllic. We get a glimpse of community as the lovers on the run elude an uncertain fate and those who believe they are heroes help and cheer them on. Not only is it culturally rich and hip-hop infused but it’s intensely real.
Characters & Chemistry
The two actors I want to focus on are our stars, Slim (Daniel Kaluuya) and Queen (Jodie Turner-Smith). Going from complete strangers to fugitives, to fugitives in love is no easy task. The chemistry builds as the two encounter multiple adverse situations together. Going from having nothing in common to being each other’s “ride or die” was amazing to see unfold. The transformation of their personalities as they come to terms with their plight is beautiful. Turner-Smith’s performance is bold and domineering while Kaluuya is honest and vulnerable. Both delivering raw palpable emotion that leaps out of the screen.
Queen & Slim releases in theaters on November 27th. Enjoy the movie.
Director: Melina Matsoukas (directorial debut)
Runtime: 2h 12m
Rating: 4 out of 5