Here’s why you need to catch Lena Waithe’s ‘Queen and Slim’
Universal Pictures’s newest movie Queen and Slim releases in theaters November 27th and deserves to have a blockbuster weekend. Melina Matsoukas’s debut film is a breathtaking adventure through Lena Waithe’s script chronicling the worst possible first date with terrifying plausibility.
We could rattle off dozens of reasons why everyone needs to see Queen and Slim, but the most important is that we can’t stop turning it over and over in our heads. Part drama, part comedy, and part thriller, the genre-defying chronicle of a couple’s nightmare is a can’t-miss story.
Black Bonnie & Clyde
The one-line pitch of Queen and Slim does it no justice, but it’s a start, as there’s always something intriguing about love on the run.
After meeting through a dating app, a couple is working through some cringe-worthy first-date small talk, and Queen (Jodie Turner-Smith) is clearly over it. In contrast, Slim (Daniel Kaluuya) is rolling with her bristly attitude, eating her discarded salad, and generally being sweet to her sour.
As the conversation continues in the car, the verbal sparring lightens and a hint of chemistry arises that probably still wouldn’t lead to a second date. Then police lights flash and Slim is pulled over for failure to signal a turn. When the officer (Sturgill Simpson) becomes aggressive, the encounter becomes lethal, and instantly Queen and Slim become fugitives and this outlaw romance is born.
Slow-burning love story
Queen makes it clear to Slim that turning themselves in isn’t an option, explaining: “The second you confess, you become property of the state. Is that what you want?”
The couple attempts to escape to freedom, relying on the help of strangers, family, and other less likely sources to evade capture. While the tension of their escape implies no time for romance, Queen and Slim instead slowly find themselves falling in love. As their relationship grows, the heaviness of their fate does too. Now they have something worth escaping for!
Melina Matsoukas manages to bring her Beyonce-level visuals from music videos to the big screen without a snag. Aided by Tat Radcliffe’s widescreen cinematography, Queen and Slim’s epic escape is told in a series of vignettes as the couple jumps from one safe harbor to the next.
Meanwhile, viewers are taken on a heart-stopping ride, catching details and depth as the story unfolds. With scenes like the juxtaposition of their first steamy sexual encounter with a protest in the streets, “memorable” is an understatement applied to Queen and Slim.
Haunting depiction of race relations in the U.S.
Above and beyond the love story, the outlaws, and the pure art of Queen and Slim, the omnipresent heaviness of the reality the film is based on makes it an important story that needs to be shared. We fall for these characters instantly; we know them.
When the officer encounters the daters, he sees them in a completely different light: Slim is defiant, immediately after viewers witness him offering grace to a harried waitress; the officer sees danger where we merely see an awkward first date. Systemic racism is another main character of Queen and Slim, and without seeing the humanity around it, we can’t overcome it.
Soundtrack to shape the dramatic arc
The score of Queen and Slim was composed by Dev Hynes, who contributes a song of his own under the name Blood Orange. Most of the songs featured were tailor-made for the film and heighten even the most intense scenes. Ranging from the defiant notes of Megan Thee Stallion’s “Ride or Die” to Syd’s steamy and sultry “Getting Late”, there isn’t a sleeper among the whole collection.
Any movie that inspires Lauryn Hill to release her first solo track in five years has got to be worth watching.