‘Queen & Slim’ is an incredible piece of art which conveys the social injustice of police brutality that ‘African-Americans’ can face in everyday life. The self-described “Black Bonnie and Clyde” style drama is littered with a mix of veteran actors and actresses, as well as up-and-coming stars. After going on a first date, ‘Slim’ (Daniel Kaluuya – ‘Get Out’, ‘Black Panther’, ‘Sicario’), is pulled over for a minor driving offence, which soon turns for the worse after Slim shoots and kills the police officer in self-defence. Both Slim and his date ‘Queen’ (Jodie Turner-Smith) are forced to run from the law and become fugitives; being harboured by friends and family such as ‘Uncle Earl’ (Bokeem Woodbine), in an attempt to escape the inevitability of being caught. While the duo flees the authorities, a community following begins to grow in support of the two, in direct correlation with the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement. It is apparent that director Melina Matsoukas (‘Insecure’) intended to create a thought provoking film, which probes the issues that African-American communities encounter; and Queen & Slim both elegantly and adamantly does so.
Queen & Slim does not shy away from making political statements; in fact, it could be assumed that the whole movie is a political statement depicting the battle between “the people” and the police. It is a social commentary on the status of cultural divide in ‘North America’. Throughout the film, Queen and Slim are brought together through their unfortunate situation. They begin by having quite dissimilar values and beliefs; yet, through their amalgamated struggle and strive for safety and truth, they grow closer. As a viewer, I found myself heavily invested into the lives of the protagonists and their surrounding communities, as they search for justice not only for themselves, but for a larger cause. The writers, producers, and director have created a film which allows the audience to deeply assimilate with the unfortunate circumstances that the characters are plunged into, to the point where you feel like you are actually with the protagonists throughout the story.
Foremost, the soundtrack in Queen & Slim is superb. The music and lyrics are not only a reflection of the protagonists’ situation and the challenges they’re facing, but it also mirrors African-American culture, political issues, and current trends. The soundtrack includes a blend of ‘classic’ and ‘new school’ artists, with the likes of Vince Staples, Roy Ayers, Lil Baby, Bilal and Blood Orange. The scores that have been written for the film are heavily jazz influenced and the production team have been purposeful with their choice of camera angles, to create heavily emotional scenes. This is especially evident with their use of close up and wide angles and the use of simple, yet effective instrumentals and musical trills.
Additionally, the scriptwriters have outdone themselves. The dialogue is excellent and draws the audience in. There was not one moment where I was disinterested or unsatisfied with the dialogue between characters. The use of longer conversations that weren’t necessarily in direct correlation to the main plot was fresh and greatly welcomed; to the point at which I actually yearned for more of the same style of dialogue. The natural and realistic dialogue continued to progress the characters growth and development, as well as their ongoing relationships. The script’s realistic dialogue was relatable and at times quite humorous due to its relatability.
Queen & Slim is one of the best movies I have seen come out in recent times. It’s raw story-telling ability surrounding the themes and topic of police brutality in the ‘U.S.’ is thought provoking and eye opening. Throughout the film there were several moments where I was speechless and in awe of what just occurred. Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith have incredible on-screen chemistry, and consistently elevate the tenacity of the film. This is a must-see drama, and a film for the year.
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