Film Review – Queen & Slim (2019)

Title – Queen and Slim (2019)

Director – Melina Matsoukas (feature debut)

Cast – Daniel Kaluuya, Jodie Turner-Smith, Bokeem Woodbine, Chloë Sevigny, Flea

Plot – On their first tinder date, African American’s Queen (Turner-Smith) and Slim (Kaluuya) find themselves on the run from the law after an altercation with a police officer changes their lives forever.

“Thank you for this journey, no matter how it ends”

Review by Eddie on 13/03/2020

While it would be quick and easy to compare Queen and Slim to an African American version of Bonnie and Clyde, looking a little deeper you can see that Melina Matsoukas’s heartfelt film is its very own kind of unique beast.

A much more quiet affair than the aforementioned classic, Slim doesn’t have the shootouts and spectacle of the 1967 film but still has the power, as Matsoukas adapts actress and writer Lena Waithe’s topical screenplay for the big screen.

Inspired by the United States current climate of racial tensions and injustice’s committed against its black communities through misguided law enforcement, Slim is a powerful examination of black lives in today’s world, as we follow Daniel Kaluuya’s Slim and Jodie Turner-Smith’s Queen, as their Tinder date takes an unexpected turn when they find themselves on the run after an altercation with a white police officer.

It’s the type of plotline that could be ripped straight from a recent newspaper headline and that’s where the majority of Matsoukas’s film comes from, as it draws parallels and comparisons to real life occurrences that shouldn’t be happening, but most certainly are.

It’s the type of independent film we don’t get to see a lot of in a grand scale, a $17 million budgeted offering that doesn’t make for light entertainment but entertainment that makes one pause and consider in matters that deserve our attention.

Front and centre to this relevant affair is the standout performances of Kaluuya and Turner-Smith, who do wonders with characters that aren’t instantly likeable or overly easy to warm to, but thanks too their on screen chemistry and inhabiting of their respective roles, Slim and Queen make for memorable centrepieces to a film that at times strays a little too far into the unbelievable to always work and engage.

Without heading into spoiler territory, there are numerous occasions throughout the on the lamb road trip of these two forced fugitives that don’t always ring true. From character decisions, suspect motivations and the sometimes too on the nose dialogue choices halt the film in its tracks.

When moments of rawness and vulnerability strike forth, particular latter scenes between Queen and Slim as they open up further to each other and progress in their relationship, the film soars but in its current end product, the film remains engaging without ever forming into the true classic it potentially could’ve been.

Final Say –

Queen and Slim walks its own path and dances to its own beat but despite some topical subject matter at its core and the great double act of Kaluuya and Turner-Smith,  Matsoukas’s film doesn’t always ring as true as it should’ve.

3 ½ Red Hot Chilli Pepper band members out of 5   

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