Queen & Slim – Film Review
by Fran Winston
Directed by: Melina Matsoukas
Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Jodie Turner-Smith, Bokeem Woodbine, Chloë Sevigny, Flea,Sturgill Simpson, Indya Moore
In cinemas January 31st
I have to admit that for the first ten-ish minutes of this movie I was ready to drop off. Opening with the worst Tinder date ever between attorney Queen (Turner-Smith) and Slim (Kaluuya) it is like the beginning of so many bad stand up jokes. As they banter back and forth getting to know each other I didn’t really care if they saw each other again or not. It was like listening to dozens of conversations I’ve had with friends about similar bad dates and I honestly found it tedious.
However, once Slim offers to drive Queen home things take a sinister and dramatic turn. Stopped by the cops Slim is ordered out of the car and an agitated officer pulls a gun. When the officer shoots Queen in the leg a scuffle ensues and Slim shoots him dead. Realising that no one will believe two black people when they plead self-defence Queen persuades Slim to go on the run. What ensues is a cross country chase as they officially become fugitives and try to stay one step ahead of the law while the people rise up in support of the duo.
You really find yourself rooting for the couple here much like audiences did for Thelma and Louise back in the day. The film is extremely evocative of all those great fugitive movies. It manages to deal with so many issues but it never feels like they are being shoved down your throat although they are within the subtext. You will find yourself shocked at how easily two ordinary citizens end up on the wrong side of the law simply because of the colour of their skin.
Despite a cast littered with well-known names, Turner-Smith and Kaluuya completely carry this movie and both have rightly received nominations in their respective acting categories at various awards for their performances. They have excellent chemistry and are completely believable in the roles.
Other than the first few minutes (which I honestly found dreary) this is well-paced and builds the tension brilliantly as the couple get ever closer to their goal of fleeing the US for a new life. The characters they meet along the way are all well rounded and never feel like they are mere tools to move the plot along. Each one has an integral statement to make to the overall plot.
Extremely stylish this also has tons of substance. It is provocative, powerful and thought-provoking and will resonate with you long after the credits roll.