Queen & Slim (2019)
A first date that goes from really quite well, to... anything but. Right from the outset Slim and Queen are likeable. She’s a lawyer, he works at Costco. He’s warm and personable, she’s a little colder but far from heartless. They’re both black. The cop that pulls them over as Slim drives Queen home is white. We know where this goes and it’s no place good. Guns, racism, police brutality, I’ve not said yet, but you’ve guessed we’re in America. Cleveland in the winter to be precise, judging by the badge on the cop as he’s lay dead on the floor after needlessly pulling his gun on Slim and shooting Queen in the leg. What follows is an escape or an attempt, one that’s more humorous and entertaining than the event that started this chain would suggest. Arriving in New Orleans the unlikely couple hatch a plan, but this is no farcical road trip cop chase. It’s stylish and raw, mixed with something akin to a romcom buddy movie. Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith glide through each scene, especially Kaluuya who portrays the injustice of their situation and the desire keep living with ease. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit it goes a bit over the top on bravado occasionally... who the hell goes dancing in a blues club when on the run? But then the escape is essentially a second date and live blues sure sounds good. I guess I was expecting more grit. It’s a bit heavy on helping hands on route as their celebrity status via the news increases. It seems that they’re able to drive across the country almost unchallenged, so despite the protests in the streets, the swat team raids on supporting friends, it feels quite sanitised. The message here though is simple black oppression, the community sticking together, protecting itself against the white man. It feels too much like entertainment though, diluting that message and hiding it in a love story, but perhaps that’s the point, that this is normal. Even in modern America that still has the audacity to claim it’s the greatest country in the world.