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 labeled 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.
Right now I am reading a famous book called Easy Riders, Raging Bulls and early on the book discusses the importance of the movie Bonnie & Clyde. I only think of it because early in the trailer for the new movie Queen & Slim, Bokeem Woodvines Uncle Earl calls the titular characters the black Bonnie & Clyde. That comparison is pretty wild but relatively fitting because Bonnie & Clyde was an important movie and I think Queen & Slim is an important story.
Queen & Slim written by Emmy Winner Lena Waithe and Directed by debutant Melina Matsoukas, is a story about two young African Americans on the run after shooting a cop while he was harassing them. There are three different stories in this, you have the manhunt story line, the love connection, and the commentary on race the writers are making. I am going to discuss all three.
The manhunt was the hook of the movie and most of these scenes are riveting. You are always worried about who is around the corner for the characters, and it feels real because, unlike most movies they actually have to get gas and go to the bathroom. They get into numerous adventures, some fun (everything with Uncle Earl), some not so fun (what’s the deal with the horses?), all leading to a climatic moment together. The manhunt scenes were definitely the most exciting and well written scenes of the movie.
The love story between Queen & Slim was touching at times, but it just never felt overly developed. When they finally do embrace it is one of the most gratuitous sex scenes I have ever scene in a theater and to be honest it completely took me out of the movie. I never fully felt like they should be together.
The last section was the racial commentary in this which I felt was the weakest portion. Last years The Hate You Give (Juice Rating 92/100) was on my Top Ten for the year and it really balanced between overt statements and telling the story. This felt like the racial stuff was just shoe horned in and never felt natural. The riot scene was just so out of place and felt like a different movie while I was watching it.
Stock Neutral – Jodie Turner-Smith
She is a relative newbie on the screen and I certainly had not seen her before, but nothing she did really blew me away. I thought the chemistry she had with Kaluuya was fine, I just thought unfortunately she was just out of her depth with him. I thought she was at her best though when was able to just smile and enjoy the scenes because in the manhunt scenes I thought she was a bit frenetic.
Stock Up – Daniel Kaluuya
This guy just continues to rise in everything he does. After his powerhouse performance in Widows last year, this scared yet strong performance shows he is one of the best actors in the world. I really felt for him the whole time because it seemed like he just wanted to do the right thing and he just was in a crazy situation. Kaluuya brought all that emotion to the screen and more.
*A couple other tidbits
- Why did she choose to run in heels and a low cut dress over any other outfit?
- I really liked how we did not find out their names until the end.
- Almost every scene had a cross in it so I think there was religious undertones to this.
- How did the picture at the end go public?
- The story line with the Junior character was a complete sidetrack for me and did not land.
I think this movie would have worked a little more had they maybe focus it a bit more. I felt it had great moments, but the political statements fell flat for me and the multiple plot lines made this feel bloated. I think this an important story as I said above but I do not quite think it is a great movie.
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