The compelling premise of “Queen and Slim” falls short

Sahana Garrett, Staff Reporter

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The nature of the 2019 film Queen and Slim was bound to push some limits, and with a first time director in the form of Melina Matsoukas, some might even say it turned out better than could be expected. However, this rookie director clearly still has a long way to go in terms of tight filmmaking.

The film kicks off calmly, with two unnamed characters sitting in a diner, in the midst of an awkward Tinder date. There is a visible lack of chemistry. She (Jodie Turner-Smith) reached out to him (Daniel Kaluuya), because she had a bad day and didn’t want to be alone. He prays before eating his meal, and she can barely contain an eyeroll. It’s pretty clear this won’t just be the first date, it’ll also be the last. But events conspire against that normal and expected outcome. On the drive home, things escalate. They’re pulled over by a cop for a minor traffic violation. Things turn ugly, the cop is an aggressive and trigger-happy racist, but in the ensuing scuffle—it’s the cop who ends up shot dead. Terrified, the couple decide to flee the scene.

And thus we have a mildly exciting chase movie, with our two main characters fleeing the cops as they travel south for some hope of freedom.

The film makes some odd choices by making the female lead somewhat unrelatable, which is a big sin for a movie where you’re supposed to like the title characters. Throughout the accidental Bonnie and Clyde’s cross-country escape, fellow African-Americans espouse their decision to kill the cop (although it wasn’t a decision) and it presents an uncomfortably monolithic frame of mind for such a divisive concept. And of course, there is a particularly confusing scene at a protest with a young black boy the title characters previously interact with.

All in all, Queen and Slim presents an interesting story with a challenging concept and phenomenal acting, but slow pacing and odd script choices prevent it from being something truly great.