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Monday, December 23, 2019

Queen & Slim - Movie Review


The Movie: Queen & Slim

The Director: Melina Matsoukas

The Cast: Daniel Kaluuya, Jodie Turner-Smith, Bokeem Woodbine

The Story: A couple's first date takes an unexpected turn when a police officer pulls them over.


The Review:
When it comes to timely topics, this movie stands up to one of the more prevalent ones that is out there for discussion or playing out in the news just about every day. Police brutality and the excessive use of force by armed officers is one of the most controversial and igniting topics of our time and we as a culture and society need to keep it right there while also taking action on why the behavior persists. One thing I really like about how director Melina Matsoukas presents this topic is how she shows it right at the beginning of the movie, doesn't pull any punches, and then just leaves it there as fact. Not something to be debated or considered, it is just what happened and the rest of the movie covers the consequences of the decisions made in those moments.

While the subject matter is heavy right from the jump, the real meat of what makes this movie so great comes from the performances by Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith as the lead and title characters. In the trailer for the film, they are quickly referenced as a modern day Bonnie and Clyde so you pretty much know the journey they are going to be on although how they get there and what they go through are rather unique to this particular story. Imagine going on a Tinder date and, before the night is over, you have shot a police officer and are now on the run from basically everyone with nowhere to go.

This is never a shoot em up action movie, it's more of a dissection of how the two characters evolve during their ordeal having gone from just meeting to being inexorably linked by an event that spun out of control so quickly, there was never any control to begin with. At first, they kind of dislike each other then after a while begin to understand each other and, by the end, have formed a bond that could only come from the shared existence of desperation and hopelessness. The quality of the acting is superb and you really feel every emotion they are experiencing both as an individual and as an ill fated duo.

As the pair travel across the country, Matsoukas presents a lush and deeply beautiful feast for the eyes that shows off the rustic history of the mid west and southern regions of the country in a way that is sort of sad yet still has an unmistakable charm that shows through perseverance. There is so much being said through images by the director whether she is showing off a stunning sunset or capturing the vitality and exuberance of life as it plays out in a hole in the wall jazz club. There is clearly a lot that the director wanted us to see with this film and I did my best to take in every bit of it.


The Verdict:
Queen & Slim is a slick and stylish look at one of the more troubling topics of our time. Beautifully filmed and filled with life, Melina Matsoukas has created a modern masterpiece punctuated by powerful performances from Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith.


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