By Crystal Yakel-Kuntz
Writer Lena Waithe, producer of Dear White People, and director Melina Matsoukas, director on HBO’s Insecure, bring us a film of incredible complexity as they explore the realities of systemic racism and their impact on the desire to exist that exudes a beauty similar to Moonlight, through its cinematography, and the story-telling akin to Blindspotting.
In this fictional tale informed by reality, Queen (Jodie Turner-Smith) and Slim (Daniel Kaluuya) take us on a journey that ponders life, love, and existence, after a traffic stop, routine to many people of color, propels our characters into a life lived on-the-run. Queen and Slim ride into the night to evade the law and its enforcers. The two come into contact with many that support their efforts to flee and survive, while others disagree with their decision to pursue a life evading the law. Over the span of six days, they take a figurative and literal journey to stay alive through these connections – both from the familial and stranger.
Each interaction and scene delicately balances the tale of their overall journey and all the layers it is building to create a social commentary on the experiences of black people in the United States, and the many beliefs associated with these experiences. Take for instance the interaction of Queen and Slim with a mechanic and his son. The mechanic, although he helps Queen and Slim repair one of their cars on this journey for a steep price, does not approve of their actions. Yet, his teenage son could not support them more, as evidenced by his devastating actions observed later in the film.
Despite the sometimes uneven injection of social commentary, this is outweighed by the film’s ability to tell the story of being black in our criminal justice system with the care and beauty of two, incredibly played, complex characters.
Queen and Slim is in theaters Today! Check out the trailer here.