film reel image

film reel image

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Queen & Slim 2019 * * * Stars

Queen & SlimDirector: Melina Matsoukas
Year: 2019
Rated R
Rating: * * * Stars
Cast: Daniel Kaluuya, Jodie Turner-Smith, Flea

"So what happens tonight?" These are the words of Ernest "Slim" Hines in Queen & Slim (my latest review). Yeah, a lot "happens" in Queen & Slim. From the opening diner sequence, it's flat-out dangerous and relentless.

Anyway, Queen & Slim is a fictional vehicle in which every frame projects a decaying cityscape, a foreboding niche, or a totally rundown neighborhood. With almost every scene focusing on the protagonist criminals while letting the antagonist law enforcement appear in the background like paperweight black hats, Queen & Slim features actors Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith in ride or die, Bonnie and Clyde mode.

As far as 2019 releases go, Queen & Slim has remnants of  Bonnie and Clyde, True Romance, and 1986's Wisdom. Sadly, it also has a bullet-ridden conclusion that doesn't justify the exhausting journey the main characters take.

Image result for queen and slim movie scenesThat doesn't mean I'm not gonna recommend it. Queen & Slim's director (rookie Melina Matsoukas) presents a bleak vision of racial injustice and badge number hellfire that although fictitious and one-sided, feels all-too real. With Melina's streamlined and atmospheric direction and Tat Radcliffe's massively surrounding camerawork, I felt like I was in Queen & Slim. Heck, I felt like I was living it.

Queen & Slim chronicles Ernest "Slim" Hines and Angela "Queen" Johnson. They go on a first date only to get pulled over by an overzealous cop. When said cop threatens to shoot them over nothing but a failed turn signal, "Slim" accidentally kills the police officer and the two go cross-country in search of their "crossing the border" freedom.

All in all, I dug Queen & Slim's soundtrack full of jazzy riffs, hip-hop sonnets, and numbing instrumentals. I also dug the raw performances from pretty much everyone involved (look for Bokeem Woodbine playing a tripped out "Uncle Earl").

What starts out as an edgy expedition you can't look away from to a love story where two once strangers connect, Queen & Slim gives you a curious enough reason to hit the cineplex this Thanksgiving. It's a movie we need today even if it hurts inside to watch. Rating: 3 stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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