3 out of 5 stars
Some films leave you speechless. Movies that have so much to say and cause a rush of emotions that eventually become overwhelming. Queen & Slim is that type of film that takes time to process as it sticks into your conscience, even if you want it to go away. What is challenging to determine is if this positive because of the story’s profound nature or if it is harmful because of the subject matter.
Most people can relate to the awkward nature of the first date. Queen (Jodie Turner-Smith) has succumbed to her need for companionship and decides to go out with Slim (Daniel Kaluuya), someone she met on Tinder. Their conversation over dinner at the local diner goes from uncomfortable to promising, but she is not convinced that she wants to go with a man whose license reads TRUSTGOD. They banter back and forth in the car ride home, then after Slim swerves on the road, they are stopped by a local police officer. Things are tense for the couple as the officer approaches the car, especially as Queen begins to question the actions of the policeman. The tension escalates between the couple and the law enforcement agent until he pulls his gun and accidentally wings Queen. The heat of the moment leads Slim to grabbing the weapon and shooting the officer.
Maybe because of her experience as a defence lawyer and awareness of how things look within the situation, the young women convinces Slim to run. The two discard their phones and they begin the journey south, trying to piece together a plan as they travel down the road. They encounter different people who work to help them and some that attempt to turn them into the authorities. Each step along the way they begin to develop their own relationship and decide that the best solution is to make their way to Cuba. While law enforcement works to apprehend them, the media manages to make them out as local folk heroes to many people around the country.
This is a film for anyone who has felt oppressed by society and the law. A cross-country chase where topics of racism, injustice, interpreted morality and personal identity is woven into the fabric of the discussion. The raw and confronting nature of the screenplay by Lena Waithe (Ready Player One) is complemented by the music-video stylings of the first-time director Melina Matsoukas. Queen & Slim turns out to be as smooth and edgy as its soundtrack. The musical element manages to cover some of the glaring plot holes and the sluggish scenes.
It is the chemistry between Kaluuya and Turner-Smith that keeps everything held together and humming along. The visceral chemistry between the couple goes deeper with each turn in the road. As they come in contact with various individuals along their journey some add to the story, while others who only provide means of bridging to reality. In this modern era, it is not easy to believe that two novices could effectively elude the police for so long. It is at these moments when the writing is as much fantasy and legend-building as opposed to being grounded in the real world.
Reel Dialogue: ’You are my legacy’
As stated before, Queen & Slim opens the door to discussions of racism, injustice, interpreted morality and personal identity, but the one topic that stands out is legacy.
Slim describes the woman that he desires to have in his life and how their relationship would define his legacy. He did not want to aspire to greatness, being a man of wealth or be known for much, just that he had a woman who loved him. That was his legacy and without spoiling the film, it is one that could be defined as tragic or legendary, depending on how you look at it.
Is that really all your legacy amounts to in the end? The memories and people you leave behind? There must be more. Leaving a legacy involves far more than money, pleasant memories or a good name. Why? It only takes one or two generations and those things will blow away or be forgotten.
Not to diminish the value of relationships or caring for the future of your family, but the only real legacy that holds up into eternity is the one with God. Within the Christian tradition, this can only be found with belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of the Living God and Saviour of the world. This is genuinely the only legacy that lasts.
If you do not agree, cool. But, why not take a moment to consider it. It cannot hurt to explore the idea of living and leaving behind a real legacy for your family.