Director: Melina Matsoukas
Cast: Daniel Kaluuya, Jodie Turner-Smith, Bokeem Woodbine
Release Date: March 3, 2020
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 9/10
Disc Rating: 7.5/10
From Emmy®-winning writer Lena Waithe and Grammy Award-winning director Melina Matsoukas, comes the unflinching new drama, Queen & Slim. On a first date, a black man and woman are stopped by a policeman over a minor traffic infraction. As the situation spirals, the man kills the officer in self-defense, forcing the two to go on the run. As they drive, these two unlikely fugitives discover themselves in the most dire of circumstances, forging a powerful love that reveals their shared humanity and shapes the rest of their lives.
‘Queen & Slim’ tells the story of a young black man and woman on a first date whose lives change forever after being pulled over for a traffic stop on the way home goes terribly wrong. Knowing that their chances of a fair resolution to the situation are nearly nonexistent, these two strangers find themselves out of options, forced to stick together and head out on the run, intent to find a way out of the country before the law eventually catches up to them. As the pair seeks out refuge in the few places possible, they soon discover that the accident that sent them running has also managed to gain them fame, with many seeing the couple as heroes. As a romance starts to build between them, they uncover something beautiful amidst all of their terror and misfortune, if only they can find a way out to enjoy it.
Directed by Melina Matsoukas (TV’s Insecure) from a screenplay written by Lena Waithe (TV’s The Chi) and from an initial story by Waithe and James Frey respectively, Matsoukas does a fantastic job at the helm of ‘Queen & Slim’ which also marks her feature length directorial debut, passionately guiding along this unflinching and touching tale. The film also benefits from a cast that features some talented folks and includes Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out), Jodie Turner-Smith (TV’s Nightflyers), Bokeem Woodbine (Overlord), Chloë Sevigny (The Snowman), Flea (Baby Driver), Sturgill Simpson (The Dead Don’t Die) and Indya Moore (TV’s Pose) along with more, nearly all offering solid and highly capable performances for the most part in each of their respective roles, particularly Kaluuya and Turner-Smith who never falter in their powerful portrayals of our two leads.
‘Queen & Slim’ is a powerful, moving and romantic film with its feet planted firmly in our modern reality. Taking two notably different individuals who likely would have never gone a second date and forcing them to plan the rest of their lives together after one unfortunate moment, along the way allowing the two to find something special within each other that they might have otherwise missed. As romance blooms between the pair amidst the uncertainty and fear, they subsequently find something worthwhile in each other while ironically forced to abandon everything they know and care for at the same time. It’s an emotional journey that before long will have you rooting for this couple as they struggle to find a way out of this nightmare while still trying to do the right thing as much as humanly possible along the way. Director Melina Matsoukas does a wonderful job guiding along the screenplay by Lena Waithe and the well selected and talented cast led by Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith really allows the film to evolve into something quite impressive and moving. I can’t possibly urge everyone strongly enough to try and check out ‘Queen & Slim’ at your earliest convenience. It’s a wonderful and unforgettable piece of cinema that will grab ahold of you and take you along for this uncertain journey with our two leads and while often tense and uncomfortable, it’s still a journey that’s definitely worth taking.
Overall, ‘Queen & Slim’ is a realistic and heartfelt dramatic thriller with plenty of romantic elements sprinkled throughout. Exploring the terrifying journey these two are forced to take after an unfortunate event forces their hand and the love and surprising touches of heart and humanity they find along their journey. ‘Queen & Slim’ is highly recommended. It’s an unflinching, touching and powerful film that never shies away from tackling real world subjects and the uncomfortable reality they represent. For anyone already interested in the film yet may have missed it during its theatrical run, it’s definitely not one to overlook and at the very least it should be well worth the a couple hours of your time and the price of a rental. For fans of the film considering a purchase, the great high definition video and audio presentations offered on the Blu-ray release shouldn’t disappoint either.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Queen & Slim’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation with the film’s original 2.39:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks wonderful as a whole and offers a nice, smooth and sharply detailed presentation from start to finish with no notable faults or issues to be uncovered along the way. It holds up beautifully even during the numerous darkly lit sequences, never resulting in anything onscreen becoming negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a great high definition video presentation from Universal that doesn’t disappoint and should please fans as well as first time viewers.
The Blu-ray release features a Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 channel compatible) soundtrack. Please note that this review pertains solely to the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio presentation. This multichannel soundtrack may not be overwhelming aggressive or constant with the heavy activity, but it delivers in every way required and then some, providing music and effects that contribute to the ambience within, while sending bits of dialogue, music, vehicle activity and plenty more throughout the various speakers whenever appropriate, and never conflicting with any dialogue or other audio elements that might be occurring simultaneously. Overall, this is a wonderful Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible) soundtrack that sounds great every step of the way and nicely compliments the onscreen journey these two find themselves on.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Queen & Slim’ includes a few nice extras that dive deeper into the film and the process of bringing it to life. Included on the release is an ‘Audio Commentary with Director/Producer Melina Matsoukas and Writer/Producer Lena Waithe’, in addition to a collection of Behind the Scenes Featurettes that feature interviews/comments with the cast and crew, plus behind the scenes footage and more. The included Featurettes are: ‘A Deeper Meaning’ (running approximately 6 minutes in length), ‘Melina & Lena’ (running approximately 5 minutes), ‘Off the Script’ (approximately 3 minutes) and ‘On the Run with Queen & Slim’ (approximately 4 minutes).