The Reel Review
Queen and Slim’s awkward first date takes a tragic turn when a racist police officer pulls them over for a minor traffic violation, which quickly escalates into a deadly shooting. As the pair flee cross country as fugitives, they cram a lifetime of living into what may be their last few days of freedom. At the same time, a video of the incident goes viral, making them a symbol of trauma, grief, and pain for those whom have felt the injustice of police brutality.
This much edgier mashup of the classic Bonnie and Clyde and 1991’s Thelma and Louise features raw, riveting performances from Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out, Sicario) and newcomer Jodie Turner-Smith as the unlikely duo on the lam. Turner-Smith, as the more pessimistic, complex realist to Kaluuya’s more easy-going optimist, is particularly noteworthy. Director Melina Matsoukas’ incorporation of silent moments and character voiceovers results in a mesmerizing story that allows us in the minds of the main characters.
Despite a jarring, out-of-place sex scene spliced with a violent police confrontation, and a couple of wildly implausible moments (one involving a convenience store attendant and a gun), the script from Emmy award winner Lena Waithe (Netflix’s Master of None) deftly captures the current racial tensions in America. You will find yourself rooting for the extremely likable duo right up to the pulse-pounding finale.
• Queen & Slim is the directorial debut for Melina Matsoukas, who previously directed some TV episodes as well as music videos for superstars Lady Gaga, Beyoncé and Rihanna.
• Born in the United Kingdom to Jamaican parents, Jodie Turner-Smith worked as a model prior to her first acting gig in 2013 as a siren on the HBO series True Blood.
• In 2017, Lena Waithe and Aziz Ansari won an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy for an episode of Master of None, based on Waithe’s coming out experience as a lesbian.