“Queen & Slim” is a 2019 American romantic drama starring Daniel Kaluuya as Slim and Jodie Turner-Smith as Queen.
The film starts off very fast as the audience is introduced to both of the titled characters on their first date in a local Ohio restaurant.
It is made clear that Queen is a criminal defense attorney typically comfortable with being alone. However, she loses a case that will soon have her client executed. No longer wanting to be alone, she finally gives the innocent Slim a chance through meeting on Tinder.
As Slim drives Queen home after their date, they are stopped by a police officer who begins to display some discriminatory tendencies toward the couple – especially toward Slim, an African American man. The interaction eventually escalates to the point of no return when the officer shoots Queen in the leg, leaving Slim one option: to defend himself. From there, the film kicks into high gear, which is better for the nature of the story.
It is evident where both Queen and Slim stand on the issue. Slim wants to go to the police, while Queen knows the system is set up against them – even with Slim’s actions being self-defense. Queen knows they will go down for this in the worst of ways.
This prompts the title characters to go on the run, which lets viewers see the characters in a new beautiful and poetic way. Both characters narrate the film as they go on the run, and we are able to get a whole new perspective on the situation from both parties, especially as the titled couple rises to fame and are even labeled as being “The New Black Panthers.”
Jodie Turner-Smith had a truly stunning performance as Queen, handling her character’s development in pure form. Being able to watch her go from tough as nails to finally being able to become vulnerable with Slim was a definite noteworthy performance. The way she was able to embody the complexity within the character was nothing short of entertaining.
Daniel Kaluuya was also amazing as Slim because he was able to accurately show the true innocence of an African American man in this situation – it was nothing less than powerful to watch.
It is amazing to see their love story unfold, especially as the audience remembers they had just met. To watch them fall for one another the way they did in such a situation is a sight to see.
The film also stars Bokeem Woodbine as Uncle Earl, Chole Sevigny and Flea as Mr. and Mrs. Shepherd and Indya Moore as Goddess. Bokeem Woodbine offers up plenty of laughs in the film as Queen’s uncle, especially as he must repay his niece for a past wrongdoing by helping Queen and Slim on the run. When this particular wrongdoing is revealed, however, it is sure to leave the audience in shock.
The soundtrack also helps add to the aesthetically pleasing film as songs like “Ride or Die” by Megan Thee Stallion and VickeeLo and “Almeda” by Solange contribute to the overall artistic vision that is “Queen & Slim.”
What I mostly enjoyed about the film was the artistic value of it, the messages behind it and the overall concept of the film: survival. One of the main things I hate about the public's opinion of the film is labeling it a “Black Bonnie & Clyde” – while it does share some characteristics with the story of the infamous couple, it is far from that. The characters are solid in a realistic, intense and poetic story and the comparison to Bonnie & Clyde seems unfair to these characters as a whole.
“Queen & Slim” truly delivers an intense and powerful story that is sure to have you in tears by the end. And it will leave you with one question, “Will you be my legacy?”
Echo Grade: A+