When pulled over on what should have been a routine traffic stop, a young black couple end up killing a cop in self defense after a first date. If that doesn’t speak to you in terms of social commentary, I’m not sure what will. Queen and Slim literally hits the ground running almost immediately and it doesn’t ease on the tension or commentary until the very last moments of the film.
Starring Jodie Turner-Smith and Daniel Kaluuya as Queen and Slim (respectively), this film is directed by first timer Melina Matsoukas, and holy hell is it something to talk about, so strap in.
2019 was not the first year of cop violence films by a long shot, but it did have several films that depicted the tension between the police and minorities. This isn’t a surprise since the cultural climate has finally reached a point where this struggle is being talked about openly. With Black and Blue and Queen and Slim both releasing in the last few months on Blu-ray and 4K, it’s definitely been a hot button topic that is showing up in movie goer’s radars more frequently than before. Hopefully these movies can drive more conversation and we can find some form of peaceful ground where police can do their jobs and minorities don’t feel threatened. But hey, that’s something the world needs to work out.
Queen and Slim wears it’s heart on its’ sleeve, so to speak, in that it doesn’t go to any length to sugar coat it’s feelings towards the police, and they might not be as negative as you may thing. From almost the first scene, you get a good sense at who Queen and Slim are – two young black people who each are looking for something different in life. Their first date is not going so well, so when the police pull them over afterwards, it is that much more crushing that the cop is a legitimately racist man abusing his power over them. A series of confrontations (peaceful, but rude) cause him to shoot Queen and in defense, Slim gets the gun and accidentally kills the cop.
This starts the flight.
Knowing full well that they might not get the chance to defend themselves, the couple opt to go to Queen’s uncle’s house in order to hide out and potentially find a way out of the situation. While this sounds like a reasonable course of action, it winds up being a hell of a road trip across several states on an attempt at freedom; and this is exactly where this movie really shines.
Throughout their flight to freedom, Queen and Slim encounter a wide range of characters, each with their own motives and intentions – some that glorify their actions, some that condone them – but all have had their own encounters with those who abuse their powers to incite fear. However, it also has examples of police who are not evil, which is important to note as well.
Seeing so many of these viewpoints in a believable way seems almost impossible, but it is pulled off well here, I never felt like these were just a series of set pieces aimed at making me feel more and more anger. Instead, it provided insight into different points of views than my own, whether I agree with them or not. I think this is a valuable thing to do in a movie like this, and I commend them for making it work.
Apart from social commentary, this story also has a lot of other character development in it, including not just the young couple as they grow onto each other in their exile, but also each of them has internal struggles that they must learn to overcome while dealing with this incredible stressful event. Kaluuya and Turner-Smith both are so damn good in their roles. The supporting cast is also fantastic. It had to be to make sure that everything felt plausible regardless of some truly crazy situations that the two get themselves into.
For a film that takes place in so many dark sets, the 4K disc is actually a pretty important upgrade in visual quality. The blacks are much deeper without causing any issues in the color palette. Camera technology is getting so good these days, that being able to make out fine detail like this in dark scenes is something that the tech doesn’t get applauded for as much as it should.
Audio wise, this movie was impressive throughout the entire movie. Throughout their journey, they end up in a whole range of fairly unique environments that almost all include some exciting music, whether it be some rap blaring in a car they are using, or a blues bar they wind up in for a drink. I never had any issues with dialogue even with the music going on, and instead I found it to be a really fun track to listen to. This was a Dolby Atmos track.
This 4K UHD release comes in a standard black case with 4K UHD and Blu-ray, a nice slipcover and digital copy. Also included are:
- A Deeper Meaning – Queen and Slim were chosen as character names for a reason, and this explains why.
- Melina & Lena – Director and Producer discussion on the film and the process of making it.
- Off the Script – Shots of script reading mixed with an important shot of the film.
- On the Run with Queen and Slim – Highlighting the different filming locations.
- Audio Commentary with Director/Producer Melina Matsoukas and Writer/Producer Lena Waithe.
Our Recommendation for Queen and Slim:
Queen and Slim takes a highly divisive and important topic and gives a lot of perspective to it. I will say that it might be a bit frustrating to some viewers that there are no true heroes in this film, instead almost every single person on screen does good and bad, but then again, in real life people are not necessarily always just good or bad. I think this made the movie that much more believable. I highly recommend this movie, and I would recommend the 4K UHD version due to the better quality during dark scenes and the really great audio track.