Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Movie with Abe: Queen and Slim

Queen and Slim
Directed by Melina Matsoukas
Released November 27, 2019

First dates don’t always go well. It might be that one person perceives that it has while the other does not, and a request for a follow-up interaction might be met with trepidation if one party doesn’t see it going anywhere. A first date could lead nowhere at all, resulting in the two people never seeing or thinking about each other ever again. When unexpected circumstances occur at the end or in the aftermath of a poor first date, those members of a would-be couple may not have much say in whether or not their futures will intertwine.

Queen (Jodie Turner-Smith) and Slim (Daniel Kaluuya) eat at a diner, a local black-owned establishment chosen by Slim after Queen decided she didn’t want to be home alone and finally responded to his online messages. On the drive home, a momentary swerve attracts the attention of a racist police officer who pulls them over and harasses Slim. When Queen emerges from the car to start filming the encounter, the officer shoots her in the leg, prompting Slim to react instinctively, grab the officer’s gun, and fatally shoot him. Calling on her experience as a lawyer fully aware of what happens to black people who come into contact with police, Queen encourages Slim to go on the run, trying to stay one step ahead of the law and keep on driving to some unknown fate.

This is a film that’s constantly transforming, starting out as a lighthearted awkward romance and then turning deadly serious in an instant. Audiences are treated to Queen and Slim being forced into a relationship, one in which they realize just how little they like each other. Through this harrowing journey, there is much humor to be found, particularly in their back-and-forth that memorably features Queen expressing her distaste for the way and volume with which Slim eats. The situation in which they’ve found themselves shouldn’t leave room for entertainment, yet there’s plenty here thanks to a smartly-written dynamic enhanced by strong actors.

Turner-Smith turns in a formidable film performance after some recent television work, imbuing Queen with a remarkable resolve and intelligence. Kaluuya, a newly-known quantity after “Get Out,” “Black Panther,” and “Widows,” continues a streak of impressive role choices with this very human portrayal. Bokeem Woodbine stands out in the supporting cast as Queen’s uncle, an ally for the duo with more than a few words to say about his help. This fictional film from writers Lena Waithe and James Frey and music video director Melina Matsoukas tackles big issues present in American society with a fantastical tale that can’t symbolize every person’s experience but does its best to glean a worthwhile and powerful perspective.


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