By Sophie Fennelly
Image credit: Oprahmag.com
‘Queen and Slim’ is a film that captivates the divides running deep in America today, those that have only been emphasised by the resurgence of the extreme right: divides between race and class and draws on the conflict between the black lives matter and blue lives matter movements.
The film starts with a man of colour (Slim, player by Daniel Kaluuya) and a woman of colour (Queen, played by Jodie Turner-Smith) who are pulled over on the way back from their tinder date by a police officer who becomes aggressive with Slim and when Queen, a lawyer, threatens to record the officer arresting Slim he shoots her in the leg. A struggle ensues and Slim ends up shooting the police officer dead. The film then follows their short-lived romance and lives on the lamb, with their story capturing and dividing the nation.
The film also explores the atmosphere amongst young black African Americans through the character of Junior (Jahi Di’Allo Winston) who is the son of the mechanic who fixes Queen and Slim’s car and has been inspired by their story. Junior does not view death as a negative ending, but rather a way to become immortal due as a result of the tense political climate that has a tendency to iconise victims of racial violence.
The film acts as a symbol for diversity as both the scriptwriter and director are women of colour. As a result of this and its overwhelming critical success many have criticised its lack recognition in the Oscars this year.
The writer, Lena Waithe, felt it was important that the film should begin in Cleveland as this is where Tamir Rice (a 12-year-old African American boy) was shot by a racist police officer in 2014. The death penalty is still legal in Cleveland and it is this threat of death that spurs them on in their run from the law.
This was the director, Melina Matsoukas’s, feature directorial debut, although she has previously directed music videos for artists such as Beyoncé and Rihanna and has discussed how important these strong black women have been in her life and how they played into the character of Queen. She decided that she wanted to make the film because the script was so political but also because it portrays a beautiful love story between two black people which she felt has not been shown before in such a way.
Many have also praised the film’s soundtrack and score for their diversity as well as the way it reflects the area in which they are travelling through. Matsoukas has revealed that it was important to her that the score was made by a black composer and that she consulted Solange Knowles for advice who suggested Devonté Hynes. Motown Records provided the film’s original soundtrack.
Queen and Slim has been dubbed a ‘black Bonnie and Clyde’ but it is so much more. It is a captivating must-see that will keep you on the edge of your seat. I give it 5 stars.