Released: 12th March
Seen: 25th August
On August 24th, video emerged of Jacob Blake being shot 7 times in the back by police officers. He was not resisting arrest, he was not armed, he was not in any way a danger to the officers. He was getting into his car after breaking up a fight and was shot by police 7 times IN THE BACK (that ‘in the back’ part is why I’m not going to be hearing your counter arguments on this. not kidding, don’t bother trying to justify this, you can not). Now, fortunately (at the time I type this) Jacob survived this attempted murder by the police, although he is paralysed from the waist down but he is just another in a long line of unarmed black men who have been shot by police who disproportionately shoot unarmed black men.
This is such a harsh constant reality that even a global pandemic couldn’t stop it. It’s so frequent that I have genuinely lost count of the amount of TV shows and movies featuring a black actor that don’t, at some point, have them dramatically get pulled over by a cop because it’s a scene that everyone knows and understands. So, it was only a matter of time before a film asked one simple question… what if the unarmed black man fought back. Queen & Slim is the film to answer that question and the answer is as fascinating as one can expect.
In Queen & Slim, the unarmed black man is Slim (Daniel Kaluuya) who has a first date with a woman who goes by Queen (Jodie Turner-Smith). We will learn their names much later on during the film but for the purposes of this review, we’re going by the names used in the title. After their innocent little date, Slim gives Queen a lift home and a cop pulls them over for failure to use a turn signal. This leads to the cop demanding to search their vehicle and generally being hostile towards them and when Slim asks if they can hurry up because it’s cold, the cop does what cops do and pulls out his gun. After a lot of begging and demanding to know what’s going on, the police officer shoots Queen in the leg and Slim, acting as literally anyone would, tackles the cop and in the ensuing fight shoots the cop in self-defense.
What follows is 2 hours of Queen & Slim just trying to find a way to escape since they’re aware that even though they did nothing wrong, they are still in serious danger and we watch as their escape turns them into martyrs. We watch as people support them in what they did (since the video makes the situation screamingly obvious) while other people still believe they should’ve just listened to the cop who was behaving irrationally. We also get to see this couple go from the end of a first date to falling in love over the course of their ordeal and it’s one of the most depressingly romantic stories possible because you know this can’t end well.
Lead by two incredible performances, Queen & Slim is chock full of heartbreaking and powerful moments that will grab hold of you and it doesn’t let go. From top to bottom, every scene has a strange tension that builds any time you think you see a car that might be the police. It’s incredibly powerful and expertly paced, every single scene just builds and builds without wasting a single moment. By the end you’ve gone on one of the most wild and engaging rides that cinema can offer and it’s just incredible.
Queen & Slim is one of the most fascinating love stories you will see, while also being a sadly poignant discussion about the realities of police violence towards the black community. The fact that a scene where an unarmed black man having a gun pulled on him by police still makes me think of an event that happened two days ago is upsetting, and sadly works in this films favour because it maintains some serious relevance even today. I long for the day when it loses that relevance and when that happens, we’ll still have a glorious film that’s worth enjoying every second.