Whenever you leave a movie cinema or play and you do not want to hear a sound, you know that you have just witnessed some great art form. You want to stay in the moment and continue thinking about what you just saw, heard and felt and you don’t want a song from the radio or a show on the television to interfere with your continual engagement.
I was hesitant to see Queen and Slim when I heard that they were a black couple on the lam after one of them shot a police officer. I felt that it would more than likely not end well but when I read that the Screenwriter (Lena Waithe) was educated at one of our local middle schools, graduated from the city’s only high school and graduated from Columbia College in Chicago’s Loop, I took a deep breath and dove in.
This movie still has me thinking because though it is a story that we all know too well, it is so much more. It is a journey into the hearts, minds and souls of two young people who were out on a first date in Cleveland when things went terribly wrong. They had just had a meal together and as he, Slim (Daniel Kaluuya) was driving, he swerved after trying to get his cell phone from her. It was a light moment until they were pulled over.
After following all the commands of the police officer, things further escalated when Queen, (Jodie Turner-Smith) an attorney, got out of the car to ask for a warrant while her date was being frisked. The police office shot her in the leg for questioning his authority and Slim reacted by taking his gun and shooting him.
Thus, the story begins. Queen decides that she wants to go to her Uncle Earl (Bokeem Woodbine) who lives all the way down in New Orleans. Slim simply wants to call his family but she feels that the phone call would be fatal for them both.
A scenic road trip with all genres of music playing in the background ensues and they first run out of gas in Kentucky. A sheriff picks them up and they eventually lock him in the trunk of their car and take his pick-up truck. They spare his life because they were not intentional killers but accidental killers.
They travel the American south, witnessing everyday life like people picking cotton, children out playing on skateboards late at night, people dancing in a honky-tonk or juke joint and they finally make love on a side road in a car. They start talking and baring their souls to each other and their bond strengthens.
By this time, their pictures are on every front page of the newspapers and there is a big price on their heads. On the other hand, their ordeal sparks protest by those who are compassionate with their plight. They make it to New Orleans and the uncle can only help to a degree. From there, their plan is to go to Georgia, eventually Florida and then to Cuba. A Georgian couple and a young a police officer both assist them at one point. In the interim, Queen finds her mother’s grave and makes peace with her. Slim slips and calls his father to tell him that he loves him.
You hold your breath as they continue their journey and when they get to Florida, they meet their Judas. They go to meet the plane when law enforcement shows up in full force. They continue to hold hands and she is shot in the heart. He bends down and picks up his Queen and raises her to a high status. They all fire on him and when he falls, they end with one on top of the other. It is powerful. And then, we see the he black, gold-grill wearing, marijuana smoking, trailer park sycophant counting his cash from his simony actions.
Queen and Slim is being compared to Bonnie and Clyde, but they do not continually kill anyone. They were just two young people who got caught up in bad situation. The music is great. The plot is well-oiled with no rusty hinges and the acting is memorable. Though the ending is sad, the journey is divine!
Lynn M. November 30, 2019