Warning: “Queen and Slim” is rated R for violence, some strong sexuality, nudity, pervasive language and brief drug use. If you are under 17 don’t watch this film unless attended with an adult or guardian.
An unremarkable first date in rural Ohio takes a fatal turn in “Queen and Slim” where two unnamed characters, played by Jodie Turner – Smith and Daniel Kaluuya, get pulled over and severely harassed by a cop for a minor traffic violation. After killing the officer in self defense, they find themselves on the run from the law.
This is the latest drama/thriller from director Melina Matsoukas and writer Lena Waithe. The film is Matsoukas’ directorial debut but both she and Waithe are well known and decorated figures in Hollywood.
When the couple’s story gains national attention, they see the way they represent a frustrated nation weary from fighting against racism and institutional violence. They also find solace in the one constant in their lives; each other.
Matsoukas first gained critical acclaim for directing Beyoncé’s “Formation” music video, for which she received a Grammy, six MTV Video Music Awards, three BET Awards and an NAACP Image Award in 2016.
Waithe won an Emmy in 2017 for her “Thanksgiving” episode for TV series Master of None, making her the first black gay woman to win “Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series” at the awards show.
Both Waithe and Matsoukas identified the film as “protest art,” created as an urgent creative response to the abuse of power exercised by law enforcement unto people of color.
“It is our job as artists to reflect the times. And by that, anything a black person writes is political,” Waithe said in a Los Angeles Times interview on Oct. 30. “Whenever I’m being black and free and saying the things I want to say, that is a form of revolution.”
Along with the score, the “Queen and Slim” soundtrack is out on Spotify, featuring new songs from artists such as Megan Thee Stallion, Ms. Lauryn Hill and Syd. The album teases viewers with a series of emotionally charged songs that sample from a spectrum of genres.
Set against the lush, historic backdrop of the South and featuring iconic actors such as Indya Moore, Bokeem Woodbine and Chloe Sevigny, “Queen and Slim” is a revolutionary film that will leave a definitive mark on Hollywood and add a necessary narrative to America’s conversation around police brutality and racism.