Queen & Slim
- Emma Simmonds
- 27 January 2020
Melina Matsoukas's welcome twist on the lovers on the run flick is gorgeous, angry and hopeful
A Tinder date goes humorously then horrible awry in this welcome twist on the lovers on the run flick from Beyoncé collaborator and debut helmer Melina Matsoukas, which combines style, subtlety and a vaguely oddball air. Although they're dubbed the 'black Bonnie and Clyde', the eponymous lawbreakers are utterly lacking in edge, swagger or anything resembling criminal nous.
Two beautiful Brits – Jodie Turner-Smith as Queen and Daniel Kaluuya as Slim – head up this very American road trip romance written by Master of None's Lena Waithe that sees the mismatched duo cross the divided South following the aforementioned diner date and a fatal traffic stop. She's a straight-laced legal eagle, her emotional walls built high; he's a laidback nice guy, giving it a shot but a bit bemused by his companion's lack of common courtesy. Basically a couple of floundering geeks, fortunately they have some shady connections to squirrel them away.
Queen & Slim slightly glosses over the psychological impact of the initial incident, while the level of glamour applied to their all-too-real predicament has attracted criticism. However, it's a film that burns with genuine anger, that soaks up the wrenching divisions and racism alongside the gorgeous people and glorious views. It's important, too, that this is a story written and directed by black women, fronted by black protagonists. It ain't no Green Book.
If it's made with plenty of polish and lots at stake, there's enough low-key charm to recall the shenanigans of TV's Atlanta, while the influence of Tarantino is in ample evidence. We watch our protagonists learn to live, and to love, and although there is a sense they could be arrested at any time, the solidarity they inspire on their journey across America makes this a film all about hope.
General release from Fri 31 Jan.