This is a love story set against the backdrop of racist America in director Melina Matsoukas’ first full-length movie.
It starts with a Tinder date that probably wouldn’t have gone any further had the two protagonists not been thrown into a life and death situation.
In the face of death they realised the meaning of life. Love.
Lena Waithe wrote the screenplay from a story by her and best-selling author James Frey. As Slim (Daniel Kaluuya from Get Out) is driving Queen (Jodie Turner-Smith) home after their date they are pulled over by a police officer for an innocuous offence.
The situation escalates tragically as Slim shoots the cop with his own gun in self-defence. The couple drive south on the run hoping eventually to reach Cuba which allows picturesque visuals of the places they drive through; Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, Alabama and the Florida Keys.
Matsoukas has called the story a “reverse slave escape narrative” – early in the 19th century slaves would try to escape from the south to the more liberal north.
The nameless black couple are paranoid everywhere they go knowing the police could catch them any second. This amplifies and distills what it’s like to be black in America today.
Scared that you could be killed by a cop for not indicating while changing lane.
On the run they get to know each other, dance to live jazz, ride horses, hang out of car windows. Trying to feel alive while facing death.
Unsurprisingly music plays a big part in telling the story. The couple fall in love as they listen to music in the car and dance to live jazz.
Solange Knowles features and played a big part in deciding the direction of the sound for the film. There is even new music from Lauryn Hill. The soundtrack fits perfectly with the score from Devonté Hynes who manages to superbly match the music to the visual.
Matsoukas has directed TV series Insecure and Master of None but is most well known for her music videos.
She directed Rihanna’s We Found Love and most famously Beyonce’s Formation video. Scenes from the movie and Beyonce’s Formation could easily blend together.
Beyonce leaning out of her car with ass-length braids and the infamous shot of her on top of the cop car in a red Gucci dress as it sinks would not look out of place.
The film is beautifully complex, deep and gripping. It is told with striking images and beautiful visual narratives.
When it comes down to it the couple just want to be loved. Queen wants her scars kissed. Slim wants someone to hold his hand and never let go. They both want to leave a legacy.
This movie does that to all those who have lost their lives for no good reason to the police. This movie is their legacy. Queen & Slim will be released in cinemas Friday, January 31.