“Queen & Slim” confronts police brutality in an unexpected way

Despite some pacing issues, the film dazzles with its main performances and gripping story.

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“Queen & Slim” confronts police brutality in an unexpected way

The film “Queen & Slim” dives into the the societal issue of police brutality.

The film “Queen & Slim” dives into the the societal issue of police brutality.

Courtesy of IMDb

The film “Queen & Slim” dives into the the societal issue of police brutality.

Courtesy of IMDb

Courtesy of IMDb

The film “Queen & Slim” dives into the the societal issue of police brutality.

Chris Charpentier, Freelance Writer

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Queen & Slim” stars Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith, a couple whose first date goes awry when they are stopped by a hot-headed cop. After shooting the cop in self-defense, the couple is forced to run and evade the law. From the get-go, the topic of police brutality has turned many people off from going to see the film, with many IMDb users leaving harsh reviews for its supposed “bad message.” However, the negative audience reviews couldn’t be any more wrong. The film’s message about legacy is supported by a terrific cast, well-developed characters and superb direction from Melina Matsoukas.

ARMED AND DANGEROUS

Kaluuya and Turner-Smith present fantastic performances where they become their characters and create nuances to make them feel real. The opening diner scene was particularly well-written, establishing the couple’s relationship in a compelling way. Their awkward first date and drive home changes when they are faced with an intense traffic stop, where the scene’s lack of music intensifies the tension between the couple and cop. After protecting themselves with what the audience knows as self-defense, the couple is immediately thrust into the dangerous world of being labeled “armed and dangerous.”

AN INTENSE ROAD TRIP

With the structure of a road trip, the film’s pacing is well-balanced, most notably in the first half when each stop they make feels necessary. However, the film suffers when some stops feel more dangerous than the film makes them out to be, to the point where the audience is more aware of the situation than the characters are. Despite its slow points, the development of the couple’s relationship carries the film. The film captivatingly unfolds their past lives and motivations, mainly through others they meet along the way. 

The film also shows how the couple’s actions in the first act affected the people around them. Although it is clear the couple never meant to incite violence and spark protests on police brutality, the film displays how some would think otherwise. However, viewers could nitpick the full video of the main altercation at the beginning, which is posted online for everyone to see. Because the self-defense aspect remains unclear, the scene could leave viewers confused.

THE IMPORTANCE OF LEGACY

The film’s memorable message leaves audiences thinking about the importance of legacy and the effects their actions play on others. Questions of how one’s legacy lives on and who it lives through are telegraphed in small ways in the beginning and gradually develops throughout the film. Although the ending is predictable, it finalizes the theme in an incredibly powerful way.

“Queen & Slim” goes beyond the obvious sentiment of the negativity of police brutality and provides something morea compelling storyline that explores deeper themes that are rarely talked about in society today. Viewers with a socially-conscious outlook on relevant issues must watch this film.