Queen & Slim + Discussion (15)



Drama (2019)
132mins US/Can

Starring: Indya Moore, Chloe Sevigny, Benito Martinez, Daniel Kaluuya, Bokeem Woodbine, Jodie Turner-Smith
Director: Melina Matsoukas
Writer(s): Lena Waithe
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

On the awkward journey home from a first date, Officer Reed pulls over Queen and Slim for a driving violation. A fractious interrogation in the cold culminates in Slim shooting the cop dead in self-defence. Queen argues their only viable course of action is to flee. "I'm not a criminal," pleads Slim. "You are now," sombrely replies his date. Severing contract with nearest and dearest, the reluctant fugitives head to New Orleans to lie low with Queen's estranged uncle Earl.

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LondonNet Film Review
Queen & Slim (15)

A first date culminates in a kiss of death in Melina Matsoukas's stylish, sweaty and absorbing romance, which one character pithily describes as "the black Bonnie and Clyde". Fuelled by the fury of Black Lives Matter, Queen & Slim kindles a fledgling romance between seemingly mismatched singletons and allows those sparks to build into a raging inferno of passion in the aftermath of a police shooting that could have been ripped from news headlines...

Queen & Slim. Copyright: 2019 Universal Pictures/Entertainment One. Caption: Jodie Turner-Smith as Queen and Daniel Kaluuya as Slim in Queen & Slim, directed by Melina Matsoukas. All Rights Reserved.Music video director Matsoukas, best known for her Grammy Award-winning work behind the camera of Beyonce's black positivity anthem Formation, makes a splashy feature film debut with impeccable soundtrack credentials. The jazz and Delta blues of Herbie Hancock and Little Freddie King jive comfortably next to the rap and R&B of Mike Jones and Lauryn Hill, whose soaring track Guarding The Gates is her first new music in more than five years. Occasionally, Matsoukas makes creative missteps - intercutting an erotically charged sex scene in a car with a violent street protest is heavy-handed and risks emboldening the very stereotypes the film seeks to tear down.

Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith are handsomely matched as the luckless love birds, who become poster children for racial injustice. They play Slim and Queen, who sit in the booth of a late-night Ohio diner, exchanging pleasantries on a hastily arranged first date. It transpires that lawyer Queen decided to accept Slim's invitation after three weeks of silence because she craves company following the state execution of a client. "You didn't have any friends or family you could call?" asks Slim. "So you turned to Tinder?" On the awkward journey home, Officer Reed (Sturgill Simpson) pulls the couple over for a driving violation. A fractious interrogation in the cold culminates in Slim shooting the cop dead in self-defence. "You're a black man who killed a cop, then took his gun," summarises Queen, who argues that their only viable course of action is to flee. "I'm not a criminal," pleads Slim. "You are now," sombrely replies his date. Severing contract with nearest and dearest, the reluctant fugitives head to New Orleans to lie low with Queen's estranged uncle Earl (Bokeem Woodwine) and his harem of lovelies, including the luminous Goddess (Indya Moore).

Queen & Slim is galvanised by the two leads, whose relationship deepens convincingly during a ramshackle road trip down south with police forces in hot pursuit. Screenwriter Lena Waithe engineers dramatic detours that occasionally strain credulity. The final 20 minutes feel a little disjointed but a protracted set piece involving Chloe Sevigny masterfully cranks up the on-screen tension without any consideration for the state of our fingernails.

- Sam Cannon

Queen & Slim. Copyright: 2019 Universal Pictures/Entertainment One. Caption: Jodie Turner-Smith as Queen and Daniel Kaluuya as Slim in Queen & Slim, directed by Melina Matsoukas. All Rights Reserved.


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